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CAB says Fuel Poverty an increasing problem

Press Release
For immediate release
CAB says Fuel Poverty an increasing problem for New Zealanders

Citizens Advice Bureaux are seeing an increasing number of people who are struggling to pay their power bills says CAB National Research and Policy Advisor Dr Andrew Hubbard. "Every year we get thousands of enquiries about electricity issues and other related enquiries – insulation issues, income support for paying for power and more. We are seeing more people struggling to keep their homes warm and dry.”

CAB’s around the country are banding together this week to raise awareness of the difficulties people are having with electricity issues and options they have in addressing these issues.

“When times are tight financially, people often have problems paying their power bills and we want to make sure that people know about all the options available to them.” says Dr Hubbard.

“Power companies must have arrangements in place, like payment options and hardship programmes, which help people manage their electricity costs”, says Dr Hubbard. “Every CAB can work with people to check they are getting all the help that is available".

“Every year we see clients who are living in cold and damp houses and whose health is suffering because of it. It's important for people’s health that their house is warm and dry especially if they have a baby or small children", says Dr Hubbard.

“Our Bureau volunteers can help people find out if they (or their landlord) qualify for insulation subsidies or help them check that they're getting the best price for electricity" said Dr Hubbard.

“There are lots of things that people can do to keep warm and dry with winter on its way.”

Citizens Advice Bureaux is an independent community organisation offering a free, confidential and independent service of information, assistance and referral from 90 locations stretching from Northland to Invercargill. Last year volunteers received over 550,000 enquiries on issues ranging from electricity, immigration, housing and employment to consumer rights, health and family.

Between 2000 and 2011 residential electricity prices have risen by 48% in “real” terms - adjusted for inflation, which has left more people struggling to pay their power bills. Research from the University of Otago’s Housing and Health Research Programme found that fuel poverty increased from around 10% of New Zealanders in 2003 to 25% by 2008.

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