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Josie Hinton

Practical Support Manager

Five tips for managing costs with the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme

Josie Hinton

Practical Support Manager

Practical support manager Josie Hinton shares advice on what the Energy Bills Discount Scheme means for charities and top tips on how to cope with rising costs.

We know the impact of rising energy costs on charities is stark. We’ve heard from many of you that you’re struggling.

Last week, we hosted a webinar with SCVO in partnership with our trusted supplier Utility Aid to discuss the government's new Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS) and what it means for charities. The EBDS replaces the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) from 1 April 2023.

We polled over 200 attendees during the webinar. They gave us an insight into how charities and voluntary organisations are feeling.

  • 52% didn't feel confident they would be able to cope with rising energy costs over the next 12 months.
  • 54% were not very or not at all happy with the support offered through the EBDS. The impact will be minimal and concerns about survival are high.
  • 33% didn't know what the new scheme would mean for their charity.

The webinar showed how difficult charities are finding it to understand and plan for continuing changes to the energy market and the support offered by EBDS. So, we've got five tips to help you manage your costs.

1. Find out if you're eligible for the EBDS

The new scheme will be available to everyone on a non-domestic energy contract. This includes businesses, charities and public sector organisations such as schools, and hospitals. The scheme is available for those who are:

  • on existing fixed price contracts that were agreed on or after 1 December 2021
  • signing new fixed price contracts
  • on deemed / out of contract or standard variable tariffs
  • on flexible purchase or similar contracts.

The maximum discount that can be received is £19.61 per megawatt hour for electricity and £6.97 per megawatt hour for gas. Suppliers will automatically apply reductions to the bills of all eligible non-domestic customers.

Eligible energy and trade intensive industries customers will have to apply for a higher level of support. The government will publish more details on how this will work soon.

Read the government's guidance on the Energy Bills Discount Scheme.

2. Check you're being charged the correct VAT rate

Charities are eligible for a reduced rate of VAT on fuel and power provided they are for:

  • residential accommodation
  • charitable non-business activities
  • small-scale use.

Check if you're eligible for a reduced rate and if this is being applied on your invoices.

If you've been charged the incorrect rate, you'll need to submit a VAT reclaim form. You should be able to get one from your supplier. If not, you can contact Utility Aid.

3. Understand standing charges

Standing charges are fixed non-commodity charges. Non-commodity charges are fees your energy supplier adds to your bill for giving you access to energy. They’re charges you pay before you use any energy.

The charges can vary a lot depending on your supplier, the type of energy and where you're based.

Standing charges are set to increase. We recommend looking at the supplier’s standing charges before entering a new contract.

4. Get reliable advice on environmentally friendly energy sources

If you're looking to reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint and be energy efficient, places to look for reliable information and advice include:

5. Know how we can help you

How you can help NCVO

  • We've been campaigning for ongoing support for charities who are struggling with their energy bills. We need to hear your stories so we can continue to make the case to government. If you're concerned about paying your charity's energy bill, please contact policy@ncvo.org.uk to tell us more.
  • Take the VCSE barometer survey and help us understand how inflation and energy costs are impacting charities, community groups and voluntary organisations.
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