Small charities have been hard hit by recent increases in utility costs – of 60% or higher in many cases – and these often have led to charities recording annual budget deficits and the need to use reserves simply to pay for monthly energy bills.

Equally, many small charities have found that their beneficiaries are suffering hardship as a result of electricity and gas price hikes, with the result that up to 50% of small charities are acting as warm hubs.

Are there ways of solving this problem?

An interesting case study shows the difference in approach to one group of charity beneficiaries – people with disabilities – by different utility companies. One of the major water companies has enabled people with disabilities to reduce their water bills by introducing a new “disability” tariff which increases the daily charge but removes the water consumption charge altogether. Disabled people have experienced major water bill reductions as a result. On the other hand, a major electricity supplier has claimed that there is nothing that they can do to help disabled people because their competitors are not introducing special tariffs. Perhaps not – but it only takes one company to grasp the initiative!

There needs to be a clear understanding on the part of energy companies that small charities consume high levels of energy because they are frequently working with and for vulnerable people who need warmer accommodation; specialist electrical power equipment; and greater water consumption in terms of both personal baths and use of washing machines and dishwashers. If some utility companies can implement special arrangements for both charities and individuals, there seems no reason why others should not follow their example.