Rising electricity prices, cost-of-living pressures pushing Tasmanians to the limit

For Tasmanian pensioner Suzanne Cass, making ends meet is so difficult that she rations her food and limits leaving her home.

“We now only go out when we absolutely have to because of petrol prices and, if we have to go out, we make sure we do more than one thing,” she said.

“We don’t put heating on until four or five o’clock, so the house is quite cold all day, and you go to bed early because you just can’t afford the heating.”

Her scrimping and saving, made harder by the rising cost of living, is set to go to another level when a 11.88 per cent rise in electricity prices takes effect next month.

That rise will see the average annual residential bill rise by about $220, while the average business will pay $176 more.

“It’s just one hit after another. It means you can do less,” Ms Cass said.

“I’m anxious, depressed, worried. It’s not the life that I planned … I just never expected at this time in my life that I’d be living like this.

“I used to buy salmon every so often and now I don’t do that.

Price rises push Tasmanians ‘to the limit’

Tasmanian Council of Social Services chief executive Adrienne Picone said the increase could not come at a worse time for many Tasmanians.

“We’re in the midst of a very severe Tasmanian winter and, added to that, we’ve got skyrocketing costs — of food, of housing, of petrol — that are really pushing households’ budgets to their limit,” she said.

The state government has announced a winter assistance package to help people cover the increase.

That package will include a $180 discount for eligible electricity concession account holders, $61 of which was already budgeted for.

The energy saver loan scheme has also been boosted, offering residential customers, landlords and small businesses an interest-free loan of up to $10,000 to invest in energy-efficient products to lower their electricity bill.

However, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) chief executive Michael Bailey said the government should announce extra support to help businesses afford the pay rise.

“We recognize that care needs to be taken in intervening in the energy market, to ensure that we can protect consumers as well as providing confidence to investors,” he said.

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