Scheme to help low-income earners
THE Federal Government has announced a $30 million Home Energy Saver Scheme that aims to ease the financial strain on Australia's low-income households while encouraging them to use low-energy appliances.
The scheme, which starts in early 2012 and ends in 2016, will give low-income earners free home consultations with specially-trained workers who advise on how to minimise energy use.
Consultants will also refer people to non-profit organisations where they can get interest-free loans for buying energy-efficient appliances. People will be able to apply for up to $1200.
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs said the idea for the scheme came out of discussions with Australian communities.
"People with low incomes said they didn't have much room to move and needed assistance," a department spokeswoman said.
The scheme was designed at the same time as the carbon tax and while compensation for the tax kicks in mid-2012, the spokesperson said the Home Energy Saver Scheme would further help people deal with any future rise in living costs.
Lismore Neighbourhood Centre's No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) - a national partnership program between Good Shepherd, the government and National Australia Bank - has been organising interest-free loans for low-income earners since 2009.
The centre's community hub supervisor Lynn Rowland said the scheme had been a big success.
"In 2010 we filled up two boxes with applications and we're probably going to double that this year," she said.
"When a washing machine or fridge breaks (low income earners) are not in the position to be replacing it."
"Being able to access this loan that has no interest allows them to get those things they really need."
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