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The Department of Planning and Environment (Department) administers five energy rebate schemes targeted to low-income households. The five rebates are of two key types:

1. Ongoing support to pay energy bills

2. Crisis Support

More than one million rebates are paid each year to over 800,000, or around 27 per cent, of NSW households. Households learn about rebates from a variety of sources including: Service NSW, government and energy retailer websites, energy retailer welcome packs, Department marketing efforts, information on energy bills, and Centrelink.

The budget for energy rebates is increasing every year and in 2017–18 is more than $245 million. The Department delivers most rebates through a network of partnership arrangements with:

• energy retailers, who apply rebates directly onto energy bills

• more than 340 charities and other NGOs who assess households' eligibility for crisis support and distribute support through the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance scheme (EAPA)

• Service NSW, who informs NSW households about rebates through their call centre.

The energy rebates budget is substantial and the distribution arrangements are complex. The objective of the audit was to assess whether the current design and distribution of energy rebates schemes is effective.

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