O'Farrell freezes funding for energy vouchers as electricity bills and disconnections skyrocket: Abandons $55 million funding increase to help struggling families pay electricity bills

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Disadvantaged families and pensioners will be hit hardest by the O'Farrell Government's decision to abandon a $55 million increase to the NSW energy voucher program – at the same time electricity prices and disconnections are skyrocketing.

The Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) scheme provides $30 vouchers to help households who are financially disadvantaged and having trouble paying their electricity or gas bills because of an emergency, to a maximum value of $480 per year.

"Barry O'Farrell has abandoned a $55 million increase to the energy voucher program for disadvantaged families and pensioners - at the same time he is sending electricity bills and disconnections soaring," Shadow Energy Minister, Luke Foley said today.

"Household electricity disconnections rose by 18 per cent last year to 18,651.

"The former Labor Government set aside $55 million in additional funding over five years for the energy voucher scheme in 2009 to meet increasing demand.

"But instead of rolling out the extra funding to help disadvantaged families pay their bills, the O'Farrell Government has frozen the scheme's funding at $14 million for 2011/12.

"Huge cuts to the energy vouchers program will see more families struggling to pay their electricity bills and more households facing the prospect of being disconnected.

"These cuts come on top of the 17 per cent electricity bill price hike Barry O’Farrell passed on to NSW families last July.

"In Opposition, Barry O’Farrell was on the side of families, but now he is Premier he is sending electricity and water bills skyrocketing.

"Barry O’Farrell promised to help NSW families meet the rising costs of living - but all he has done since becoming Premier is send electricity and water bills soaring and make it even harder for the most vulnerable in our community to get by."