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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.

Westminster urged to go further in support for charities

 

The calls come after a package of support was revealed on Wednesday to alleviate the #RunningCostsCrisis

More and more voluntary sector organisations could be forced to close, charity bodies have warned, after the UK government unveiled a package of support for the third sector. 

On Wednesday the UK government announced plans for a new Energy Bill Relief Scheme, providing a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers. 

This support will be equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in place for households earlier this month, set to be in place for an initial six-month period. 

The move will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022, as well as to deemed, variable and flexible tariffs and contracts.

Prime Minister Liz Truss said: “I understand the huge pressure businesses, charities and public sector organisations are facing with their energy bills, which is why we are taking immediate action to support them over the winter and protect jobs and livelihoods.

“As we are doing for consumers, our new scheme will keep their energy bills down from October, providing certainty and peace of mind.

“At the same time, we are boosting Britain’s homegrown energy supply so we fix the root cause of the issues we are facing and ensure greater energy security for us all.”

Despite claiming to be targeting the “root cause”, charities have warned that we will see others force to close, urging the government to go further, and extend support beyond March 2023. 

SCVO head of policy, Kirsten Hogg, said: “Voluntary organisations are used to being very resilient, they will do all that they can to stay open for the people they support and to continue to provide these services. 

“But that is becoming increasingly difficult and I would anticipate that we will see more and more organisations having to close their doors if other support isn’t forthcoming.”

She added: “This announcement is a welcome first step. But it is not enough. Additional support will be needed beyond the next six months, and we will work to ensure that the perfect storm of increasing costs, increasing demand and decreasing income is recognised."

Similar calls were made by experts in the sector.

Nicole Sykes, director of policy and communications at Pro Bono Economics, said: “This government support is indispensable for thousands of charities and community groups around the UK that were concerned they might simply sink under the weight of crushing energy bills without it.

“The pressures on these organisations are particularly acute given the unique strain placed on the social sector by the cost of living crisis. As demand for charity support rockets as a result of the economic hardship faced by millions, inflation is eroding the finances of charities every day.

“This is why the whole economy approach to this crisis taken by the government today is so important. It ensures that the kind of organisations that can slip through the cracks, such as community centres and refuges, are protected and can continue to do their vital work, especially at a time of such considerable need.

“It is now crucial that the experience of civil society is fed into the government’s vulnerable sector review in three months’ time, to prevent support slipping away where it is needed the most.”

The calls come as new research warned grassroots charities are fearful for their future as 98% are concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on their organisation’s ability to achieve their aims.

Grassroots charities and community interest companies (CICs) across the UK have indicated clearly that the rising cost of living is putting an immense stress on their abilities to deliver their goals and projects, according to a new survey from Localgiving.

52% described themselves as very concerned and 46% concerned about the impact of rising costs on their organisations abilities to achieve their aims.

Taking a view of their current financial status, against that of a year ago, 49% of respondents said they were worse off, 37% about the same and only 12% said they were better off.

Alex Williamson, CEO of Localgiving, said: “We know that the grassroots charity sector is greatly worried about the rising cost of living and the impact this will have on both their ability to achieve their aims and the level of donations they receive. 

“In what is likely to be a difficult winter for most, vulnerable communities will be hardest hit, and many of our charities work directly in supporting these groups. Losing this support would be disastrous for many across the UK.”

 

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