Money

Charities and social enterprises offered loans to beat energy bills

Big Issue Invest is offering energy bill loans to charities and social enterprises which are struggling with rising costs.

A hand points to buttons on a gas boiler

The energy price cap rise will mean a huge increase in the cost of using gas boilers. Image: CORGI Home plan/Flickr

Charities and social enterprises wondering how they will keep the lights and heating on as energy bills shoot upwards have been offered a potential lifeline in the form of cheap loans to invest in renewables

Business leaders around the country have warned of mass closures due to the energy bills crisis, leading to the government announcing six months of help, capping prices at “less than half the wholesale prices anticipated this winter”.

In a bid to help businesses for social good find long-term solutions rather than a short-term fix, Big Issue Invest, the investment arm of the Big Issue, is now offering loans of up to £150,000 for organisations to install measures such as insulation or heat pumps to keep costs down.

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Big Energy Saving Loans are available for social enterprises and charities in England, ranging from £20,000 to £150,000 and can be also used for installing renewable energy equipment.

Permanent, money-saving improvements such as replacing old boilers, or getting rid of single-glazed windows can also be funded with the loans.

Businesses were not included in Liz Truss’s initial package of energy bill support announced in September and were left waiting as they discovered what help would be extended.

The government’s energy bill relief programme for businesses, announced on Wednesday, is expected to cost the taxpayer around £25 billion, and will cap electricity costs at £211 per MWh and gas costs at £75 per MWh. Without the cap, prices were expected to hit £450 for electricity. 

However, the new capped electricity price is still nearly double what it was in October 2021, at £117. And it is not known what help will be available after six months. This means that, while some help is available, businesses across the country are still vulnerable to rising prices.

Grants from Big Issue Invest have helped a community in Milton Keynes transform the way they get power, providing clean energy for the long run,

Wolverton Community Energy, aided by funding from BII, has taken on projects including solar panels and helped insulate locals from sudden rises in energy prices.

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Danyal Sattar, chief executive at Big Issue Invest, said: “It’s an immediate response, an immediate thing we can do for what organisations are experiencing right now.

“Even before this, there was tightness in the supply chain around renewable equipment. If you were doing renewables, your costs were slipping upwards.”

A side effect of increasing bills, Sattar added, is that money spent on renewables can pay itself back quickly: “There are real energy savings to be had. It’s just saving money.”

Firms will need to show a clear energy saving case, and an ability to repay the loan. More details can be found here.

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