AUBURN has one of the highest number of residents "desperately seeking" help to manage increasing power bills.
Auburn comes in at number two in a list of Sydney postcodes where residents have sought assistance from the NSW Government's Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) scheme, with some people afraid to open their power bills.
The EAPA scheme helps around 55,000 energy customers experiencing a short term financial crisis to pay their electricity or natural gas bills, and last financial year Campbelltown topped the list of postcodes where residents applied for assistance with $404,750 allocated, closely followed by Auburn on $317,650. Merrylands came in at number 10 with $175,650 allocations.
Major Paul Moulds from the Salvation Army Auburn said many local people were approaching them "desperately seeking this kind of assistance".
He said that people already living on tight budgets because of poor housing affordability, especially pensioners and those on a 'new start' allowance, were thrown into turmoil when a higher than expected electricity bill arrived.
"I relate to this. As Salvation Army officers working on very low incomes, we too are faced with these type of decisions about how long we will keep heaters on," he said.
Noting that demand for blankets from the Salvos was higher than he had ever seen it, Major Moulds said people were taking "drastic measures" to reduce their electricity use.
"Something has gone badly wrong when people come in to see me with unopened bills; when they hand in their heaters because they fear the consequences of turning them on; when they switch off their refrigerators a few days a week; when they ask for extra blankets and layers of clothes to fight off the winter cold," he said.
"It concerns me greatly that people in this nation are living in this type of fear and anxiety."