BALLARAT welfare workers hold grave concerns for struggling Ballarat families as they brace for electricity prices to soar when the carbon tax comes into effect July 1.
The government says most households will be more than compensated under its assistance package, set to help nine out of 10 households nationally through measures such as personal income tax cuts and increases in pensions and allowances.
The office of Ballarat MP Catherine King yesterday confirmed that about 48,000 taxpayers would receive a tax cut in Ballarat, with 40,000 receiving a cut of at least $300.
“The government has always said that revenue raised from the carbon price on the big polluters will be used to provide households with fair and generous assistance, to support jobs in the most affected industries and to invest in clean energy,” Ms King said.
“We are keeping to those commitments and are, specifically, now about to roll out the family compensation package.
“As promised there will be tax cuts for wage earners, and financial support for pensioners, families, single parents, job seekers, students and self-funded retirees.”
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In total, more than 47,300 people in Ballarat will receive household assistance through income support payments, such as pensions, and family assistance payments.
While cautiously welcoming the compensation package, Uniting Care welfare worker in emergency relief Maree Bruhn said she feared the carbon tax would still push financially struggling households over the edge.
New models on the carbon tax show Victorians can expect electricity bills to rise by up to 8.5 per cent.
But Ms Bruhn said many in the welfare sector believed it would be much higher when the scheme was put into practice.
“Other people are saying it’ll be more likely 20 per cent,” she said.
“It’s also going to affect their gas and their food prices.”
Ms Bruhn said concern stemmed from the dire situation already faced by so many people living in the community, who had been suffering as power bills steadily rose in recent years.
“There have been elderly ladies sitting at home the last few winters and they’ve been trying to compensate for it by turning everything off,” she said.
“It does have a big impact being rural and living in an area that’s colder.”
Ms Bruhn said strict regulation of power companies was required to prevent the concessions from being cancelled out.