Scottish charity's gas bill soars by 542% leaving its services at risk

27 Oct 2022 News


A Scottish charity has revealed that its gas bill will increase by more than 500%, from £9,700 to more than £62,000 in a year.

Toryglen Community Base is a multi-purpose community resource centre that provides access to training courses, activities and spaces for local people.

Jackie Bonner, facilities co-ordinator at Toryglen Community Base, told Civil Society News that it “cannot afford to pay this increase and be able to stay open in the long term”.

According to recent accounts filed with OSCR, the charity had an income of £115,646 in the year to 31 March, against expenditure of £131,038. 

‘We had no choice’

Earlier this month, the charity received a quote from its utilities broker for next year, as its gas contract comes to an end on 31 March 2023. 

The quote stated that its gas bill would increase to £62,273, a 542% increase on what the charity currently pays. A separate quote showed that the charity will have to pay £50,288 in 2024. 

Bonner said Toryglen Community Base could have never “foreseen this or planned for it”. 

“We had no choice but to sign the contract as we were advised that it would be worse if we didn’t. We cannot afford to pay this increase and be able to stay open in the long term,” she added.

‘Charities will not be able to provide the services that we all depend on’

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, highlighted the charity’s gas bill in a parliamentary debate earlier this month. 

Thewliss told MPs that her constituents are concerned about surging prices and want clarity on the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme beyond March when it is due to end. 

On the charity, she said: “There is no way that any organisation, whether a company or a charitable organisation such as Toryglen Community Base, can afford that. I implore ministers to listen to people in those circumstances, because they have to sign those contracts. If they don’t, it will cost them more than the £62,000 they have been quoted. There is no alternative for them, and they don’t know what will happen come April. It’s irresponsible for ministers not to give clarity to organisations in such circumstances.”

She added that “businesses will fold and charities will not be able to provide the services that we all depend on”. 

Charity closures would affect society ‘more broadly’

Thewliss continued: “Toryglen Community Base was also given a quote for the following year, 2024, of £50,287.59. It’s not as if prices are falling to any significant extent, and even if it survives the coming year, the bill quoted for the year afterwards is still huge, yet the energy price guarantee for businesses finishes in April. 

“The minister must explain what will happen to such businesses. We appreciate the cost of measures such as these, which we see in these estimates, but there will be a cost to society more broadly if all those businesses fold, charities cease to exist, and ordinary people in their homes cannot afford to put on the heating, turn on the lights and use the power on which they depend.”

In response, Graham Stuart, minister for climate, acknowledged that these rises are “significant”, telling Thewliss that they are the result of global prices. 

He said: “She will be aware that the EU is in a similar position and is looking at how best to break the link between gas prices and electricity prices. She will doubtlessly support the elements of the Energy Prices Bill that look to decouple those prices and do everything they can to hold prices down.”

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the Civil Society News daily bulletin here.