Agenda item 5 - Impact of rising costs of energy on community buildings

Chief Executives' Group - North Yorkshire and York

11 February 2022

Impact of rising costs of energy on community buildings


1        Purpose of the report

1.1    To outline the challenges facing community buildings across North Yorkshire and York and to ask for VCSE buildings and venues to be included within the eligibility criteria for business grants and business support.

2        Background

2.1     Community buildings, including village halls, are a vital part of our social and economic infrastructure.  They provide the venues for community activities and small businesses such as local nurseries.  Some buildings have diversified to be business hubs and places for shared work spaces.

2.2     As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, they play a vital part in helping people reconnect with one another and improve wellbeing across all ages.  The level of activity is growing but as yet continues to be below pre-pandemic.

2.3    Gas and electricity increases are being seen by community buildings, and as energy agreements come to an end, buildings are struggling to find better deals with alternative suppliers.

2.4    Ofgem is set to remove the energy price cap on 7 February 2022 which could see variable rates raise as much as 56%.  Overall gas and electricity price increases are predicted to be in excess of 150%.  Wages and other costs are similarly set to rise.

2.5   A warm venue is essential to attract users.  A warm venue can be a lifeline for people who are vulnerable and who are unable to heat their homes adequately.

2.6   Many community buildings and voluntary sector venues benefited from unrestricted Government and local authority Covid-19 grants, which helped mitigate the impact in 2020/21and possibly into 2022/23.

2.7   Building owners and tenants are adapting their pricing models whilst trying to limit the impact on community groups such as lunch clubs.

2.8   Guidance is being given on actions to take to manage the impact of rising costs and how to re-engage users of the buildings and increase use.

2.9   VCSEs do not have the funds for capital investment to upgrade to energy efficiency systems.

3      Issue

3.1   With low growth of income and rising costs many community buildings are facing survival challenges.

4      Recommendations

4.1   Chief Executives are asked to ensure VCSEs’ community buildings and venues are included within any funding or grant eligibility criteria so they can continue to provide venues for community activities and small businesses.

4.2   Chief Executives are asked to note the challenges facing these valuable parts of our communities and economy, and to make adjustments to ensure their survival as community anchors.

4.3   Increased hiring costs for VCSE groups to hire village halls and community buildings, should be noted as part of providing funding/grants to groups to continue their activities in the venues.

Jane Colthup,
Chief Executive,
Community First Yorkshire

31 January 2022