One in eight Australian households cannot afford to pay their electricity bills.
A survey conducted by professional services firm Ernst & Young showed that more than one in 10 people have missed more than three bills payments in the past 12 months in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
A total of 70 per cent also said they were often or occasionally worried about being able to pay their electricity bill – the same level as last year.
An Ernst & Young spokeswoman said that power prices continued to be a cause of financial stress for Australian consumers, most of whom said the biggest single reason for failing to pay a bill on time was because they could not afford it.
A Senate inquiry into whether or not the “gold plating” of electricity networks is artificially driving up electricity prices is due to report its findings in March next year.
The Energy Retailers Association of Australia (ERAA) said hardship programs were available to consumers who were suffering financial stress.
These programs included affordable payment plans, help with ensuring that consumers received their full entitlements from government agencies, such as Centrelink, and measures to make homes more energy efficient.