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Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS)

The Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS) provides financial assistance to people in Western Australia who are in acute financial hardship and at risk of having their utility disconnected.

Acute financial hardship is when an individual has the intention but not the financial capacity to pay their utility accounts without affecting their ability to meet their individual or family basic living needs.

The amount of financial assistance available is dependent on where the applicant resides. Applicants who reside north of the 26th parallel are eligible to apply for up to $962 each financial year. Carnarvon is also considered to be north of the 26th parallel for the purposes of HUGS. Applicants who reside south of the 26th parallel are eligible to apply for a HUGS grant of up to $581 each financial year.

The additional level of financial assistance to those residing north of the 26th parallel reflects the higher temperatures experienced in northern Western Australia, which influences increased consumption.

For more information please download the factsheet.

Contacts

Name: Department of Communities
Phone: Please contact your relevant utility provider

How to Apply

If you are experiencing financial hardship and have difficulties paying your bill, please contact your relevant utility provider to discuss your options to stay connected

Synergy 13 13 53
Horizon Power 1800 267 926 
Water Corporation 13 13 85 
Alinta Energy 13 13 58 
Kleenheat 13 21 80  
Busselton Water (08) 9781 0500 
Aqwest (08) 9780 9500
Esperance Gas Distribution Company (08) 9072 1422
Financial Counsellors Association of WA Helpline 1800 007 007

Eligibility

To be considered eligible to apply for a grant, the following conditions must be met at the time of the application. The applicant must:

  • be a residential customer.
  • be assessed by the utility according to their financial hardship policy as experiencing financial hardship.
  • have exhausted all other payment options. This is consistent with the hardship policy guidelines of utility providers. Utility providers can submit a HUGS application after a payment arrangement has been entered into and 180 days has elapsed from the first bill issue date that triggered the repayment arrangement.
  • be unable to pay for a current total account balance, or have been disconnected or restricted from supply.
  • not have an outstanding amount less than $300 or in excess of $1,750 if south of the 26th parallel or $2,500 if north of the 26th parallel. Carnarvon is considered to be north of the 26th parallel for the purposes of HUGS.
  • be registered with the utility providers financial hardship policy and agree to a payment plan before a HUGS grant is offered.
  • be the account holder which is defined as the person legally and financially responsible for payment of the utility account.
  • In a situation where the account holder is not the person who makes contact with the utility, the person who does make contact must be approved by the utility as appropriately authorised by the account holder.
  • Customers of Kleenheat should be aware that the secondary person on a Kleenheat account is not an authorised person and is therefore not eligible to apply for HUGS.

 

Exceptions

There are certain situations that are not eligible for a HUGS grant. These include:

  • Customers with bottled gas.
  • Customers of the Water Corporation, Busselton Water and Aqwest - HUGS will only be available to owner occupiers of residential properties.
  • Residents of Aboriginal Town Based Communities whose accounts are case managed by Water Corporation case managers and tenants are not be eligible for HUGS.
  • There is a limit of one HUGS grant per household unless supporting evidence is provided to confirm that there is no relationship between the applicants (e.g. new home owner versus the previous home owner).

 

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