I believe in the inherent goodness of the masses. Given the opportunity and a zero-time cost, individuals would like to help those in need. My idea is to assist those struggling with their utility bills.

I've often thought that there are lots of good people about the place who would help those in need if there was a simple mechanism for doing so. One mechanism we could use requires the help of our utility companies, such as Western Power and Alinta Gas. This is what I propose...

• When you get your electricity or gas bill, you have the option of paying a little more. • The sum of these additional amounts paid by those of good intention will be held by the utility and used to pay the accounts of those in need. • The "in need" people will be recommended by our various charitable/refuge groups. • These recommendations would only be held for one billing cycle and then refreshed. • Those who have their energy accounts paid, would find that their next bill had been credited with a deposit on their behalf and they would have little, if anything, to pay. • If there are more requests than the donated funds can account for, a random selection will identify the people to be helped. • The amount of money being credited to the utilities' altruism account would be emptied by being paid out in full, each cycle.

This system wouldn’t provide immediate succour, but would help pay the energy bills for those who need some financial relief. I know that there are lots of people who find paying their energy bills to be difficult. I think that there are enough people who don’t find that their energy bills to be onerous and would be prepared to pay a little more on the assurance that the extra will help those who really need the assistance.

In terms of the additional costs that would burden the utility companies, it would be negligible as all companies of this ilk have customer service teams whose roles are to assist customers who are having trouble paying their accounts. Giving them another tool should make things easier.

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