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It is easy to run into trouble with energy bills. Job loss, unpredictable incomes and large rent and mortgage payments can make it difficult to pay bills on time or in full.
Energy costs can skyrocket with significant life changes, such as major illness or having a baby. For people living on income support, there is often little left over for energy bills after housing expenses are paid.
Electricity price increases of 117 per cent have far outpaced wage growth and general inflation over the past decade.
The Battling On report analysed HILDA data with the assistance of RMIT University to better understand two groups of energy users; (i) those in an ongoing battle to pay their energy bills and (ii) those who consistently struggle to heat their homes in winter
In total, the report estimates 180,000 Victorian households (7.3%) experience persistent payment difficulty and the 45,000 households (1.8%) persistently struggling to stay warm.
These figures are broadly representative of the whole of Australia, indicating a widespread problem requiring both local and national policy responses.