December 19, 2017

Treasurer pulls $20M bills assistance from struggling families

The State Government has pulled the rug from struggling WA families and pensioners with a six-month ban on payments through the Hardship Utilities Grants Scheme (HUGS).

New eligibility criteria announced yesterday by Treasurer Ben Wyatt mean no payments will be made for the first six months of 2018, according to Shadow Treasurer Dean Nalder.

“At a time when the State Government has acknowledged demand is at its highest ever, forcing people onto a payment plan for six months before they can get help takes mean-spirited to a whole new level,” Mr Nalder said.

“The Treasurer knowingly pushed people into hardship when he raised electricity prices by an average 11 per cent and made a big noise about an additional $16.3 million funding over two years for HUGS payments but is now effectively ripping out about $20 million over six months and pushing families further into debt.

“The Treasurer is giving his bottom line a $20 million boost in the lead up to the May 2018 Budget.

“That’s a $20 million dollar saving that will no doubt go straight to funding Labor’s election promises. I think we can be confident it won’t turn up in the Budget to save the School of the Air or programs for gifted and talented students.”

Mr Nalder also called on the Treasurer to provide evidence of rorting of HUGS payments.

Mr Nalder said blaming power provider Synergy for the massive increase in the number of WA families asking for help to pay their power bills was a disingenuous cop out.

“To increase power prices, in the full knowledge single pensioners would be hit with an average 30 per cent increase, then, without presenting any evidence, blame the power provider is nasty and deceitful,” Mr Nalder said.

“The Treasurer can point the finger elsewhere all he likes, the fact is he has driven people into hardship and now doesn’t want to foot the bill for helping them out.”

“The only rort happening here is the McGowan Government ripping money from struggling families when they promised not to.”

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