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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Third sector leaders call for better from UK Government on energy bills

 

As Conservative ministers laid out plans to halt the running costs crisis, SCVO and others demand better.

Voluntary organisation leaders have hit out at the UK Government, warning the support package announced on Thursday does not go far enough. 

During a debate in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Liz Truss confirmed that a six-month energy price guarantee for businesses, charities, and public sector organisations would be put in place. 

The move comes as groups across the country continue to struggle with the running costs crisis which has engulfed the sector, and is part of a slew of plans to alleviate pressure on households, charities and other organisations. 

A new six-month scheme for businesses and other non-domestic energy users, which includes charities and public sector organisations like schools, will offer equivalent support as is being provided for households. 

The UK Government claims this will protect them from soaring energy costs and provide them with the certainty they need to plan their business.

After this initial six-month scheme, the government said it will provide ongoing, focused support for vulnerable industries, with a review in three months’ time to consider where this should be targeted to make sure those most in need get support.

The Government will provide energy suppliers with the difference between this new lower price, and what energy retailers would charge their customers were this not in place. 

Ms Truss said: “I’m acting immediately so people and businesses are supported over the next two years, with a new Energy Price Guarantee, and tackling the root cause of the issues by boosting domestic energy supply.

“Extraordinary challenges call for extraordinary measures, ensuring that the United Kingdom is never in this situation again.”

Despite the move, those representing the voluntary sector expressed their concerns about the lack of action, as well as the knock-on effects this could have in years to come. 

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “Today’s announcement of a six-month energy price guarantee is a step forward for voluntary organisations whose energy bills have rocketed in recent months. 

“Unfortunately, the length of the freeze fails to give organisations the certainty they need, and nor will it be enough for many that are still struggling to pay these inflated bills. 

“The cost-of-living crisis goes well beyond energy bills, with rising costs eroding available funding to deliver vital programmes and services. 

“Thousands of voluntary organisations will need targeted support to cope with spiralling costs, particularly those opening their doors to provide food, warmth, and other lifeline support to people in need. There was no news of what additional support will be available.  

“The promise of a three-month review to consider further support to vulnerable sectors must include voluntary organisations, a sector that was already in a vulnerable position before this crisis. 

“More funding from the UK Government to the Scottish Government is essential to support voluntary organisations whose staff and services are being squeezed. 

“We are concerned with the suggestion of households and organisations footing the bill for this energy price guarantee through their bills and taxes for years to come. This will have a damaging impact on charities already struggling to secure funding for day to day running costs before the running costs crisis.”  

Charities also expressed their dismay at the lack of support being offered to families, who will see a new Energy Price Guarantee, meaning a typical UK household will now pay up to an average £2,500 a year on their energy bill for the next two years.

Mark Russell, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said: “This announcement falls far short of what is needed for low-income families who are in desperate need of additional targeted support.

“Our teams across the country see families already struggling to pay bills and feed their children.

“Under these plans, the typical household will still face a further £500 increase in their annual energy bill, meaning they will pay twice what they were paying around this time last year.

“We are worried sick about the devastating conditions families and children will face over the coming months if they don’t get this extra support.

“We passionately believe every child has a right to live in a secure, warm home with food on the table, but we fear many children will be left cold and hungry this winter as their families are plunged into debt and homelessness. 

“We want the Government to go further and faster and offer more help to the poorest families. 

“This should include more long-term support through the social security system - which in many cases simply does not cover basic living costs – including significant investment in Child Benefit.”

 

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