Through our 2023 democratic budget customer members allocated $17,000 to a Hardship Fund to help-out customer members struggling to pay their bills, especially important in the face of the cost-of-living crisis. A working group made up of customer members was formed and meet on the 2 Nov and made the following recommendations for use of the Fund. Customer members are invited to provide input on these my emailing [email protected] by Friday 17 Nov.
1. Reserve $7,000 for development / compliance costs with Energy locals for:
1.1 A pay it forward scheme where customer members who are willing can donate bill credits which are then used by those in need. (Some customer members who have bill credits as they have invested in solar and batteries or are in a financial position to do so have expressed interest in donating credits to others in-need.)
1.2 Update the hardship policy as per the Uniting Church, Anti-Poverty Center and customer members input, including to make the policy more accessible for all.
2. Allocate $10,000 for bill credits for customer members in hardship.
2.1 Scheme operates on a self-identifying principle where CoPower trusts those that request hardship support.
2.2 Once the customer member contacts CoPower an (on average) one month bill credit will be provided.
2.3 Information on services available, including the CoPower / Energy Locals hardship scheme will be provided. And customer member will be invited to provide details of experience of these services / schemes (including challenges they face).
2.4 Customer members can then request a second month’s bill credit which CoPower will consider based on further discussion around additional supports.
2.5 The above process is followed until the Fund is exhausted.
A. Collect greater detail on experience of households accessing hardship schemes / including barriers and challenges faced.
B. Engage with anti-poverty and social justice movements to support campaigns for rights-based approaches to energy poverty and advocate for systems change for a human right to energy for all.