Electricity fund changes on the cards
POSSIBLE changes to Dunedin’s electricity fund could benefit the city’s residents most in need.
Since 2013 more than $690,000 in grants from the Dunedin City Council’s electricity fund have been made to residents struggling to pay their power bills.
The fund was set up in 1998 to help Dunedin residents pay their electricity bill and is administered by the Dunedin Budgeting Advice Service.
Residents are able to receive only one grant in a fiveyear period, except in rare circumstances.
Council staff have recommended the rule be changed to twice within a fiveyear period in special circumstances.
In a report, council events and community development manager Joy Gunn said the changes would help those residents most in need of financial assistance.
On average, the fund assisted 686 families and individuals a year and about 75% of those were on a Work and Income benefit.
The fund’s annual budget of $200,000 had not been fully spent since the 201314 financial year.
However, budget agencies had reported a spike in the number of requests this year because of colder than usual weather earlier in the season, she said.
A total of 685 applications were successful in the last year, the most since 201415.
It was unclear what impact the Government’s new winter energy payment would have on the demand for assistance for power costs, Mrs Gunn said.
If councillors voted to adopt the recommendation, residents could access the fund twice in a fiveyear period if their circumstances were special enough.
Councillors will vote on the change at the community and culture committee meeting tomorrow.
They will also vote to approve the ongoing transfer of $20,000 from the fund to the Cosy Homes Trust Otago.
In the longer term, the trust’s goal focus on home insulation might reduce demand for assistance from the electricity fund, Mrs Gunn said.