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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Cost of living & the #RunningCostsCrisis

We're here to support you in tough times

As the cost of living crisis takes hold, people and communities need voluntary sector services more than ever. At the same time, voluntary organisations face spiralling costs, falling income and an uncertain future. We know that 61% of voluntary organisations are experiencing financial challenges while continuing to see an increased demand for services.

It’s a worrying time. We're here to provide practical support and help fight your corner.

We are regularly updating this page with new information, news and updates, so please keep checking to make sure that you're up to speed with all of our latest #RunningCostsCrisis resources.

We’re also eager to hear from you. How are you affected? What would help?

Get in touch

Information & advice

When your budgets are tight and your future feels uncertain, making sure your policies and ways of working are efficient is important. We’re here to help with our information on a range of topics, from getting and keeping funding, to business planning and organisational development, to staff retention and reward. Get in touch if you need us.

We know that the ever-changing landscape and updates on new government schemes can be overwhelming, and at times difficult to understand. We've summarised the current government schemes on energy relief here, including eligibility and what (if anything) you need to do to access them:

On 21st September 2022, the UK government announced a new Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) to reduce wholesale energy costs. The amount your organisation could save will depend on your contract and circumstances.

  • You do not need to take action or apply to the scheme to access the support 
  • It will apply to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023, running for an initial six-month period. The savings will be first seen in October bills, which are usually received in November.   
  • Businesses using off grid fuels and sources will receive a £150 credit on bills, with payments expected to be delivered by 10th March.
  • We do not know what will happen after April 1st yet. We're working with others to influence the UK government on this.

On 9th January 2023, the UK government announced a new Energy Bill Discount Scheme to replace the previous scheme to reduce wholesale energy costs. The existing Energy Bill Relief Scheme will continue until 31 March 2023. The amount your organisation could save will depend on your contract and circumstances. The total level of support available is lower than the previous scheme and we would expect all organisations to see an increase in their energy bills.

Eligibility for this scheme:

  • your organisation pays more than 10.7 pence per kWh for gas and 30.2 pence per kWh for electricity
  • you signed your contract with your energy supplier after 1 December 2021
  • If you are eligible, you do not need to take action or apply to the scheme to access the support
  • it will apply to energy usage from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024, running for a twelve-month period.

Other information:

  • The value of the discount available for eligible organisations is significantly lower than the relief currently provided. The maximum discount will be 0.697 pence per kWh for gas and 1.961 pence per kWh for electricity. Eligible organisations should expect their bills to increase. 
  • Details of support for organisations not connected to the gas or electricity grid are still to be announced.  SCVO will share this information as soon as it is available.

Our free webinar on 9 February will share information on the scheme and tips on saving costs.

Charities that run libraries, museums, historical sites, zoos and nature reserves may be eligible for a higher level of support through the Energy Trade Intensive Industries scheme. However, we would expect this will only apply to a small number of organisations with very high energy usage, for example if a library has to keep rare books in governed conditions.

  • This discount will only apply to 70% of energy volumes and will be subject to a ‘maximum discount’ of 4p/p/kWh for gas and 8.91p/p/kWh for electricity.
  • The threshold price will be 9.9p/p/kWh for gas and 18.5p/p/kWh for electricity (wholesale commodity price exc non-commodity).
  • You can check the full list of eligible sectors.
  • Businesses may need to register to be eligible for this additional support. Details on how to apply will be released in due course.

Our free webinar on 9 February will share information on the scheme and tips on saving costs.

You can read our full reporting and response for more information.

Policy & influencing

We’re giving you information to deal with things as they are, but we’re also always working closely with government, funders and the sector, to influence and guide decisions and discussions. Here’s a round up of the way we’re using our voice to support you through financial uncertainty.

  • We continue to brief MSPs in Holyrood and MPs in Westminster on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on voluntary organisations, drawing on the findings of the Scottish Third Sector Tracker 
  • Our latest policy position paper on the need for Fair Funding resulted in the Scottish Government’s commitment to fairer funding in its new prospectus, A fresh start.  
  • MSPs have used our briefings to secure commitments to multi-year funding from the Cabinet Secretary and Deputy First Minister.  
  • SCVO and the TSI Scotland Network have written to the Scottish Government multiple times to raise our concerns about delayed decision-making across funding streams. 

Opinions and news from SCVO

SCVO welcomes Scottish Government’s latest commitment to progress Fairer Funding - read the latest statement from our CEO, Anna Fowlie

'Perfect storm' could see voluntary groups shut - SCVO's Paul Bradley highlights the data from our Third Sector tracker and the worrying picture it paints for Scotland's voluntary sector in the coming months

Repair your umbrella or build a boat? How to respond to a perfect storm - SCVO's Kirsten Hogg says the crisis is a fight on all fronts

Practical cost saving from SCVO

Keeping costs down has never felt more important. Our members have access to exclusive services and support including:

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Webinars & training

We're developing a series of webinars covering all the topics we think might help you through this difficult time, with help from experts. We'll announce them once they're confirmed. You can keep an eye on our events and training here:

Events & training - SCVO

We wanted to share our past webinars that might be useful - some of them were created in response to the covid crisis and remain relevant to what we face now.

SCVO and NCVO webinar: How to manage rising energy costs: what next for charities?

We ran this sold out session on 9th February. If you missed it, you can watch the recording.

Charities Aid Foundation webinars

CAF is running a series of websites on funding during a cost of living crisis. You can find out more and sign up for sessions on their webinar series page.

Work and news from the sector

Read about other members of the sector, and hear how they’re responding to the cost of living crisis.

Please get in touch with us to tell us your story, or share other resources that you have found valuable.

Get in touch