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Charities at risk mean communities at risk, sector warns government over energy bills

Melanie May | 25 November 2022 | News

If charities are left without adequate support with their energy bills, communities will also suffer, the government has been warned.

NCVO and the Civil Society Group – a coalition of voluntary infrastructure bodies which represent and support 165,758 charities across the UK – this week wrote to Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and, Industrial Strategy to highlight the cliff edge that charities are facing.

The letter urges the government to include charities struggling with their energy bills in support measures that replace the Energy Bill Relief Scheme beyond March 2023, and offers to support the development of recommendations.

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The cosignatories, which include ACEVO, CIoF, Charity Finance Group, Directory of Social Change and the Association of Charitable Foundations, state that charities are unable to pass on extra costs, saying:

“Charities are supporting people and communities who are struggling the most with the cost of living. They therefore cannot pass on rising energy costs, as beneficiaries cannot afford it. Many voluntary organisations are providing energy intensive services, for example heating hospices, care homes, accommodation, shelters, refuges and nurseries. Reducing their energy use would jeopardise the health and wellbeing of the people they support. Furthermore, many charities operate out of buildings that are not energy efficient, such as village halls or community centres, which are increasingly being used as warm banks within communities.”

They also set out the dire situation charities are in, saying they face ‘a cliff edge’ if no support is forthcoming after the EBRS ends, with limited income sources meaning they cannot adapt to meet rising costs:

“Prior to the introduction of the EBRS, some charities were expecting their costs to increase by 200% from 2022 to 2023. Some charities reported concerns that their energy costs would rise by as much as 1,000%. It is currently impossible for charities to know, and therefore budget and plan for, their energy costs in 2023/24. These organisations are facing a cliff edge if they receive no further support past 31 March 2023.”

The letter also points to the vital social and economic contribution charities make to the UK, and the consequences that will follow if they receive no support.

“Charities are an essential part of the public services ecosystem. They provide efficient, high-quality services across a range of areas, including (but not limited to) health and social care, employment support, support for disabled people, domestic abuse, criminal justice, and children’s services. Charities warn that rising energy costs mean services are becoming unsustainable to run. If services close, in addition to the adverse impact on life outcomes, other public services will face high demand and pressures on resource.

 

“Without support, communities will not benefit from the economic value charities offer. When volunteering is accounted for, charities contribute an estimated £200bn per year to the economy. Charities employ 3% of the workforce – over 952, 000 people. Research shows that every £1 generated by a community organisation creates £2.50 for the local economy.

 

“Charities want to support people through the cost of living crisis but need to be able to cover their delivery costs including energy.”

 

NCVO has also drafted a letter for members to download and use as a framework to write their local MP.

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