The WA State Government has reported an expected average increase of 4.5% on the cost of living, starting around mid-2013. In an attempt to counter this, the State Government has increased the Cost of Living Assistance (CoLA) payment from 1 July 2013 to $208 per annum, an increase of 4%. CoLA payments are also now available to consumers who do not have a direct relationship with the supplier. This means that consumers who reside in retirement villages, apartment buildings and caravan parks are now eligible to receive the payments.
The State Government has also attempted to tackle the effects of the 6% increase in water charges. Water bills will now be issued every 2 months. It is thought that more frequent billing will make it easier for households to budget. However, consumers who take advantage of the Water Consumption Rebate should be aware that this payment only applies to the first 150kl used each year.
In the coming months WA will also be granted access to the Water Services Ombudsman Scheme. The ombudsman scheme will provide an alternative dispute resolution process for consumers who have complaints arising from the provision of water services.
For more information on these changes please see the Western Australian Council of Social Services news publication: