BEARING THE COST: Jim Payne isn't happy with the spike in his electricity bills.
BEARING THE COST: Jim Payne isn't happy with the spike in his electricity bills. Liana Turner

Expense pressure soars for Tweed residents

TWEED residents have been forced to resort to living in the dark, without a fridge or hot water, as energy prices sky-rocket.

Kingscliff man Mark Holloway said a surge in living costs was a "major concern” for him.

Mr Holloway, who lives alone, said his electricity bill had soared by 50 per cent in the past 18 months but was adamant his usage hadn't increased.

He said Origin Energy was going to investigate an issue with his meter but would charge him if it was found not to be faulty.

His recent bills have reached as high as $600 for the quarter, with the most recent bill costing him $490 - both significantly above the norm.

"It's affecting my quality of life,” Mr Holloway said.

But he said others were even worse off, including friends who had been living without electricity for weeks, using an Esky and visiting friends for hot showers as they couldn't afford the bills - even after seeking professional budgeting advice.

"People are having to forego buying decent food to afford their energy bill,” he said.

"They've got good jobs but they just can't pay the bills.”

Mr Holloway said the government was "not doing anything” to help a nation under increasing expense pressure and he believed deregulation hadn't helped.

"The energy companies think they can charge whatever they like,” he said.

His concern comes as a recent study by Kantar TNS revealed NSW residents were struggling to pay theirbills, spending the most on bills and rent in Australia.

"Over two million NSW residents are feeling overwhelmed by their rising bills expenses,” iSelect spokeswoman Laura Crowden said.

"The majority believe their household bills are preventing them from living their life to the fullest.”

Tweed Heads South resident Jim Payne is a mostly self-funded retiree, with an income that isn't increasing, unlike his expenses.

Mr Payne said his most recent electricity bill was up 13.95 per cent on the previous quarter. But he said his usage had only increased 2.73 per cent.

"Being retired and on a fixed income, it gets a bit difficult,” he said.

"It's certainly a worry and I know I'm better off than some. People on the aged pension will really be feeling the pinch.”

The NSW Government recently announced an increase to all energy rebates, effective from July2018.

This came after a $22million underspend of energy rebates in 2015.



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