In reviewing bills of low-income consumers living in public housing towers, between one in three and one in five Victorians were missing out on their energy concessions.
VIC Round 1 Outreach
VIC Round 2 Outreach
analysis and modelling from publicly available data suggests large numbers of consumers are missing out on their energy concessions across the National Energy Market, with notable variation across states.
Our modelling of Victorian data found consumers missing out on their electricity concession, but found more consumers missing out on concessions on their gas and water bills
Percentage of eligible concession card holders that did not receive a concession per state.
Rather than being automatically applied to bills, the onus lies with eligible concession holders to ensure their concession is applied and updated on each bill, or to apply for the rebate directly.
Low awareness about schemes due to difficulty finding and understanding information about schemes
Low awareness concessions need to be regularly updated. This is complicated by energy bills that can be difficult to understand and identify whether their concession has been applied or not.
Language barriers for those with low English proficiency.
Pay-on-time discounts are mistakenly understood by some households as receipt of applicable concessions
In many states consumers in embedded networks (caravan parks and some high rise buildings) need to apply directly to the relevant government department – their concession isn’t applied to their bill but is received via check
But even when consumers have taken required steps:
Consumers with expired concessions aren’t contacted by their retailer to update concession details
Concessions aren’t applied to bills even when concession details are current in the retailer’s system
Concessions aren’t applied to both energy sources when consumers have bundled supply
Name fields on forms and minor client name spelling differences between systems - Services Australia, Centrelink and energy retailers - creates unnecessary errors and means consumers miss out on their concession. This is particularly problematic for non Anglo-Saxon names
CPRC welcomes the opportunity to work further on this issue with government, regulators, policy makers, academia and the community sector. CPRC recommends:
The Commonwealth Government, working with state governments and energy regulators, conduct a coordinated review of the concessions framework.
State governments working with energy regulators to conduct a ‘sludge audit’ to identify unnecessary friction consumers face when accessing and applying for utility concessions.
State governments to play a stronger system stewardship role to monitor, evaluate concessions framework and publish robust outcomes data.
National cabinet to adopt data sharing about concessions as priority work area.
Departments, regulators and energy retail business to implement default mechanisms to automatically apply, re-validate or roll-over concessions to reduce administrative burden on consumers.
Regulators to require that energy bills more effectively communicate when concessions are applied.
* On 9 November 2022, made a correction to our data and our report. Due to a calculation error, the numbers for the ACT were initially incorrect.
The percentage of people we model to be missing out on concessions was 41%, it is now 31%. Correct data is now displayed
Senior Research and Policy Manager
Ben’s work is focused on consumer choice in complex markets, considering the implications of behavioural economics in the design and stewardship of consumer markets. He was a lead researcher on CPRC’s COVID-19 consumer survey and has managed a number of CPRC’s collaborative research partnership projects with academics at LaTrobe University, University of Technology Sydney and RMIT’s Behavioural Business Lab.
Ben can be reached at: email@example.com