Further support to households and small businesses during COVID-19

Fresh measures outlined today by the Morrison Government and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will require energy companies to provide extended relief to Australian households and small business customers experiencing financial hardship through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AER’s Statement of Expectations, first released in March, is consistent with the Government’s strong but reasonable expectations of energy companies to support their customers.

These expectations formed the basis for a nationally consistent approach to hardship support across the essential services for households and small businesses, which National Cabinet agreed in April.

Previously announced support measures, set to expire on 31 July 2020, will be extended through to 31 October 2020, and potentially beyond.

Under the updated measures, energy companies should:

  • Continue to offer all households and small businesses (including those eligible for the JobKeeper payment) in financial stress a payment plan or hardship arrangement, which may include agreeing a period where no payment will be made;
  • Waive disconnection, re-connection and/or contract break fees, along with daily supply charges to retailers until at least 31 October 2020 for small businesses that have ceased operating;
  • Not disconnect residential or small business customers in financial distress that have made contact with their retailer or responded to communications before 31 October 2020; and
  • Defer referrals of a retailer’s customers to debt collection agencies for recovery actions, or credit default listing until at least 31 October 2020.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Australians were spending more time at home and energy retailers needed to adjust their practices to meet the needs of their customers.

“The Morrison Government is continuing to shield Australian households and small businesses from energy bill shock and to ensure their lights stay on during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Taylor said.

“COVID-19 is forcing all of us to change the way we live and work right now, and that means spending more time at home.

“As a result, households are experiencing higher energy usage and that drives up energy bills, which is concerning for many Australians.

“Through these extended measures, the Government is ensuring energy companies are helping rather than burdening their customers during this difficult period.”

The Government reinforced it is important that those who can pay their bills continue to do so, in order for support to be provided where it is most needed.

As such, Australians can find tips for reducing their energy costs and getting the rebates and help they are eligible for on energy.gov.au.

Households and small businesses can also use the Government’s free energy price comparison website Energy Made Easy to shop around for the best deal for their current situation.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120