A SINGLE mother-of-two could keep her infant daughter in milk formula for nearly six months at the cost of her last power bill.
And the electricity price is set to rise by more than 17 per cent in coming months.
Comboyne’s Bek Latimore paid almost $500 for three months’ power and says that could feed seven-month-old Arizona for the best part of half a year.
At more than $20 a tin, $500 would buy the young mother about two dozen tins of baby formula, each lasting a week.
“It’s just getting ridiculous,” she said. “I’m struggling as it is to pay my bills. “And when it goes up again, well, I just don’t know how I’m going to afford it.”
She is so worried about what the impending increase will do to her limited income, she is considering moving back to parents Dennis and Christine’s home.
“I like where I live and I enjoy having my own space with my kids, so I don’t really want to move back with Mum and Dad,” the 24-year-old said.
“But if it comes down to it, I may not have any other choice.”
Ms Latimore was so desperate for help with her latest electricity bill, she approached the Wauchope Neighbourhood Centre for assistance.
She was offered help through the Energy Account Payment Assistance scheme (EAPA) in the form of electricity vouchers, but was told there would be a three-month wait.
Ms Latimore said she was told it was because so many more people needed similar assistance.
“It just goes to show I’m not the only one in this situation. There’s obviously plenty of others out there who need help like I do.”
Port Macquarie’s St Vincent de Paul Society also provides struggling families with EAPA vouchers and confirmed the demand was growing.
President of the Lismore Diocesan Central Council Brian Goodall admitted services already were at breaking point.
“Well, it’s going to be more of a drain on our already stretched service,” he said. “But people need help to pay. If they weren’t getting our help, the money would come from other important things like groceries or rent.
“At the same time, we’re not a bottomless pit.” The Lismore diocese - which covers the area between Tweed Heads and Laurieton - accounts for $200,000 of EAPA vouchers yearly.
That is topped up by another $150,000 from the charity’s own funds.
On July 1, increases to electricity supply prices would add between $182 to $381 to average household bills.
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