AVERAGE income earners are now among WA residents asking charities for help to make ends meet, according to the charity Communicare.
Communicare delivers financial counselling from its Cannington, Armadale and Rockingham offices, and assists people with rent, phone, water, gas and electricity bills.
The organisation was formed in the 1970s, but in the first three months of this year, has had more people than ever ask for help to pay their electricity bills.
Communicare chief executive Martine Pitt said during the first quarter of 2012, the organisation had to increase its support for payment of electricity bills by more than $10,000.
“In the first quarter of 2012, 39 per cent of all (emergency relief) funds were spent on electricity bill support, compared with 25 per cent in the same quarter last year,” Ms Pitt said.
Ms Pitt said she could not understand why WA’s wealth was not being distributed more evenly.
“In this country, we have some of the highest costs of power, water and communications, and it continues to increase,” she said.
“In a State as rich as this, there seems to be little return to the residents of the State by way of essential services.
“We have billions of dollars being made in our mining sector, but infrastructure and essential services to the general population continue to be an issue.” Ms Pitt said it was no longer just people on Centrelink payments who were struggling financially.
“We are seeing families who have a fairly steady average income having to ask for help when they have not previously as they are faced with increasing costs associated with utilities and rent, without corresponding increases to income,” she said.
Ms Pitt is concerned that in a State like WA, with so many summer days above 35C, more frail and disabled seniors will suffer from heat stroke.
She said seniors were reporting that they could not afford to make use of their airconditioners because they cost too much to run.