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Cornwall's second homeowners urged to donate £5.4million in energy rebates

Cornwall's second home owners are being urged to #DonateTheRebate, as it's revealed they will get £5.4million in energy rebates this autumn.

Second home owners in Cornwall are being urged to give to those in dire need this autumn. Image: Crowdfunder UK

Cornwall’s 13,500 second homeowners will soon be receiving a combined £5.4million through the government’s energy rebate – and campaigners are asking them to donate it to those in need.

Every homeowner is set to start receiving a £400 energy rebate from October as part of the energy bills support scheme, while those with empty second homes will receive the rebate twice.

Cornwall is currently in the midst of one of the worst housing crises in the country, with just as many people waiting for social housing as there are holiday lets.

Now, a coalition of organisations are urging second homeowners within the county to “help their Cornish neighbours” by donating part or all of their rebate to support local causes. 

The call forms part of the nationwide #DonateTheRebate campaign, led by crowdfunding site Crowdfunder UK, which aims to encourage those better off to give away their rebate.

Crowdfunder UK’s CEO Rob Love has started a #DonateTheRebate campaign specifically for Cornwall residents

Speaking to the Big Issue, Crowdfunder UK’s CEO Rob Love said the campaign was “fundamentally a redistribution of wealth”.

“If you took a small percentage of who [the rebate] is going to, it’s a considerable amount of money that might be going to people that don’t necessarily need it,” he said.

Cornwall is one of the most deprived areas in the country, with around 1,500 people currently living in emergency accommodation and the number of families in need of food parcels increasing by 75 per cent, according to Crowdfunder UK. And with energy bills rising throughout October and into January, the county’s cost of living crisis is only set to deepen.

Love is hoping the more well-off members of the public will tap into their community spirit and donate to local organisations, helping to keep more vulnerable families going during the winter months.

“One of the optimistic things is, what we find in particular times like this is that the British public are pretty generous, and they tend to be solving a lot of these big societal challenges from the ground up,” he said.

“There are plenty of people who might say actually, I’ll give 20 quid, because my money is going to come in handy but I feel like there’s people that are slightly worse off than us.

“That sense of community in a time when the world is a little bit screwed to say the least is pretty heartwarming,” he added.

Charities included in the #DonateTheRebate Cornwall campaign include DISC, which helps people in immediate need in Newquay, and the Cornwall Community Foundation. The Cornwall branch of Citizens Advice is also signed up, with the charity saying that the number of calls it receives regarding the cost of living crisis is increasing every day.

“We’re seeing more people unable to pay their bills, afford fuel, falling behind on debts and in urgent need of help as they face the stark choice of heating or eating,” said Gill Pipkin, the Citizens Advice Cornwall’s CEO. “We’re also seeing a wave of tenants facing homelessness because of eviction notices and the lack of anywhere affordable to rent.”

Renters in the county are being increasingly priced out of their childhood towns. 

Harriet Adele, who regularly uses the support offered by DISC to help her and her young child, said that people donating their rebate would be a lifeline to those in need.

Harriet Adele (right) with DISC manager Monique Collins. Image: Crowdfunder UK

“We’re struggling financially with the growing costs of everything,” she said. “Those who are comfortable and able to afford to donate their rebate should seriously consider it, as those donations are the only things helping keep some families afloat.”

DISC manager Monique Collins said that the campaign would become more essential as the winter months roll in. “For many families and individuals in Cornwall, things are not sustainable now and are getting progressively worse,” she said. “The cost of living is going up every day.

“We need second home owners, and anyone else who can afford to, to Donate The Rebate
to help keep vulnerable people warm and fed.”

Anyone in the Cornwall area looking to donate now can do so via the Cornwall-specific Crowdfunder page, while there is also the option to pledge to donate your rebate when it arrives.

Organisations outside of Cornwall are also urging people to donate their rebate to support people nationally, with the nationwide #DonateTheRebate campaign supporting charities including The Trussell Trust, Turn2Us and the Big Issue Foundation. 

“We’ve got a confidence in the UK that if we all come together, the only people that are really going to get [us] out of this are ourselves,” Love said.

“The real change that we need a lot of is going to come from people.”

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