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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.   
  • If your organisation is not connected to either the gas or electricity grid, there will be equivalent support. SCVO will share this information as soon as it is available. 
  • 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.

  • Along with our colleagues in NCVO we are seeking to influence a longer term solution to the issue of rising costs with the UK government.  In addition, we are calling on the Scottish Government to explore and re-open bulk purchasing options that can be accessed by the sector. 
  • We've briefed MPs with constituencies in Scotland, alongside Volunteer Scotland, on the impact of the cost of living crisis on the voluntary sector and told them what we want to happen next.
  • We've written to John Swinney to express SCVO's disappointment at the lack of recognition of the challenges faced by voluntary organisations, staff, and volunteers. This led to the Deputy First Minister convening a roundtable for some sector representatives, at which we reiterated the need for multi-year sustainable funding 
  • We've signed a joint letter to the UK chancellor, urging him to remember the voluntary sector and give meaningful support to charities and to the people we support.
  • We are briefing both the Scottish and Westminster governments about the impacts of the crisis on our sector. See, for example, our response to the Finance & Public Administration Committee: Scotland's public finances in 2023-24 - the impact of the cost of living and public service reform.
  • We've summarised the commitments from the UK Government's Autumn Statement that will impact the voluntary sector operating environment. Our summary includes analysis from key commentators. 

Government budgets - what's happened and what's coming up

Scotland specific:

UK wide:

On the 17th of October, Jeremy Hunt MP, reversed nearly all proposals in the previous UK Government ‘mini-budget’ in September. He announced that: 

  • almost all tax measures would not go ahead, with two exceptions: cutting national insurance and, in England, cutting stamp duty. 
  • The energy support announced in September’s mini budget would remain unchanged until March 2023.

On the 17th of November the UK Government published the Autumn Statement.

Opinions and news from SCVO

'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

“Disastrous”: SCVO warns of knock-on effect of cuts to energy bill support

SCVO's Chief Executive Anna Fowlie responds to the new Energy Bill Discount Scheme.

Fair funding: it's time to abandon the spin - SCVO's Paul Bradley calls for multi-year, accessible funding

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

How funders can help charities get through the #RunningCostsCrisis - SCVO's Sally Dyson looks at how funders have been responding to the ever-growing challenge

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 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?

9th February 2023
Following the government’s review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, join us and our trusted supplier Utility Aid, to understand what this means for charities and keeping costs down in the face of the energy crisis.

This session is now full with 500 people planning to attend. You may still wish to sign up to the waiting list in case places become available.
We'll share a recording after the session.

Find out more and sign up   

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