The government has announced that churches will be included in a package of support to help with rising energy bills this winter.
According to the latest government announcement, on Wednesday 21 September, under the Energy Bill Relief Scheme wholesale prices are expected to be fixed for all non-domestic energy customers, including churches. Energy prices will be capped at £211 per MWh for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas for six months from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023. This is about half the expected prices for this period, although still higher than prices prior to April this year.
It is understood the scheme will be reviewed after three months with an option to extend support for 'vulnerable businesses' beyond March 2023. It is not yet known what organisations will be included as part of this extended support.
What do I need to do to access support?
Churches do not need to contact their energy suppliers or apply to the government scheme, the support will automatically be applied to bills. Savings will be seen from October bills, which are typically received in November. The scheme will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022 as well as variable and flexible tariffs and contracts.
Rising energy prices have been a concern for all of us – for individuals as we struggle to meet the increased cost of living, care for our families and keep fed and warm. For churches, also faced with higher costs, the complexity of finding new energy contracts for some, and the need to support our congregations through incredibly difficult times. This is welcome news, and we hope will offer some temporary relief for many over the coming months.
Long-term, energy prices are likely to remain higher than normal. Don’t forget to check your church is on the right VAT rate of 5% for charities and no climate change levy (CCL) payments on energy bills. One church recently reclaimed over £7,000 that had been wrongly charged on energy bills!
Submit a meter reading
Like households, all non-domestic energy customers are advised to submit gas and electricity meter readings to their energy supplier on or before 30 September, ahead of the price cap rise on 1 October, to ensure they are not overcharged for energy use.
Keeping church energy costs down
Keeping energy costs down through energy efficiency will be the subject of our upcoming webinars on 26 September (Berkshire), 3 October (Dorchester), and 10 October (Oxford and others).
Find helpful advice on saving energy in your church in this Church of England environment webinar.
If there is a ray of hope, it is that the efforts we all need to make to manage, conserve and reduce our energy consumption will have a positive impact on creation. Energy is a precious resource, and we are being challenged about how we value and use it. We are being asked to think about where it is coming from, and at what cost. We are reminded of God’s provision, particularly in this Season of Creation, of Harvest time. We pray for every church as they navigate the coming weeks and months.