Queenslanders missing out on millions in free power rebates
ABOUT $40 million in electricity bill rebates remains unclaimed and in the state's coffers because eligible Queenslanders don't know the cost-of-living relief is available to them.
The Sunday Mail can reveal the Palaszczuk Government will increase its pool of concessions available to residents - for everything from power and water to gas and glasses - by an extra $200 million in this month's Budget.
That will bring the total amount committed to concessions in Treasurer Jackie Trad's first Budget to $5.5 billion, including extra cash to cover the state's decision to extend the electricity rebate to healthcare cardholders and asylum seekers.
But the Government is struggling to get the message out, with new figures showing just 25 per cent of those eligible for the $341 power bill rebate have claimed it. More than 100,000 people are yet to come forward.
"The Budget will allocate more than $5.5 billion in assistance in the 2018-19 financial year, which is more than a $200 million increase over 2017-18," Ms Trad said. "That's the equivalent of more than $1000 for every Queenslander."
About $100 million will cover the Government's pledged $50 electricity bill discount, with $212 million allocated to reducing the cost of living through energy rebates and concessions for vulnerable residents.
About $195.5 million has been set aside to fund the electricity rebate for eligible seniors, pensioners, veterans and low-income families.
The Government last year established a dedicated website to help people discover what concessions and rebates were available to them: campaigns.premiers.qld.gov.au/smart-savings.
Ms Trad called on Queenslanders to visit the site to find out if they are missing out on cash.
"Since it was launched in June 2017, more than 135,000 Queenslanders have used this money-saving directory site to browse government rebates across 17 categories.
"As well as electricity and reticulated natural gas rebates for pensioners, HCC holders and seniors, there are textbook and resource allowances for secondary students, and travel and accommodation subsidies for apprentices and trainees. There is financial assistance for Queensland residents of all ages and from many walks of life."
Some of the lesser-known concessions and loans include the rental bond loans scheme, which provides interest-free loans of up to four weeks' rent to help people move into private rental accommodation, and a spectacle supply scheme that provides eligible residents with a pair of prescription glasses every two years.