WA freezes household expenses amid COVID-19 crisis
18 March 2020 at 3:50 pm
Community groups praised the state government for recognising the incredible pressures that households are under
Western Australia is freezing household expenses including electricity and water prices as the state comes to grips with the coronavirus pandemic.
Premier Mark McGowan announced on Monday a $402 million package to freeze household fees and charges until at least 1 July 2021.
This measure means West Australians won’t have to pay more for electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares.
The WA government also announced it was doubling the Energy Assistance Payment to $600 and allocating $114 million in additional initiatives to help small businesses.
McGowan said these measures will provide relief to WA families, seniors and small businesses and support the economy through an unprecedented public health crisis.
“For the first time in 16 years, household fees and charges will be frozen, providing relief and certainty to each and every Western Australian,” McGowan said.
“It’s this relief and certainty that can help give Western Australians the confidence to continue to spend and support our local economy during these times.
The plan has been welcomed by the Western Australian Council of Social Service.
CEO Louise Giolitto said the state government was showing it recognised the incredible pressures that households were under currently.
“We have been concerned that energy concessions have not been keeping up with the price increases over recent budget cycles, and so are pleased to see that the state government is targeting that issue by doubling the Energy Assistance Payment,” Giolitto said.
“By keeping household fees and charges steady, people will have a bit more money in their pocket to cover other essential expenditure, like rising rental costs.”
To build on these measures, WACOSS is calling on utility and telecommunications companies to waive late payments, and stop all debt collection and service disconnections during the pandemic.
“Additionally, banks and landlords have a responsibility to support their community, and we encourage them to pause mortgage foreclosures and evictions, as well as instituting a moratorium on loan repayments,” Giolitto said.