Cost of Living

Many of us will be feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis. In the last few years, costs have been steadily rising, with inflation at a 30-year high and food, fuel and energy prices increasing with wages and benefits not keeping up. For some the result of this is devastating, with rising numbers unable to meet their basic living needs such as adequate heating for the home, appropriate clothing or good nutrition. Clergy living in large vicararges may be particualrly worried about heating their homes this winter. Churches are also suffering with increasing costs which is inhibiting their abilities host services and events as well as helping those in need. On this page you will find advice and resources to help your church navigate the cost of living crisis. 

Practical suggestions to help parishes save energy and money

Claire Strachan from the Church Buildings team has put together a document listing some useful resources. The Church of England also have produced a document with tips to reduce bills. 

Join a group to discuss the cost of living with others

A group has been set up on the Equip hub for members of PCCs navigating the effect of the cost of living on their churches. You can find the group by clicking here.

Warm Welcome

The Warm Welcome Campaign exists to support and champion the community response to the cost-of-living crisis. Working with partners of all kinds, they want to equip thousands of organisations to provide a warm welcome to everyone who might need it this winter. Perhaps your church has the resources to open a warm space once or twice a week for those in need. 

Parish Buying resources

  • Parish Buying - Net Zero 2030 - Products offered by Parish Buying are listed here. This includes solar panels, pew heaters, heat pumps and LED light bulbs. Guidance sheets are also provided to cover the questions parishes need answered before they approach a supplier.
  • Parish Buying - Energy Audit - Parish Buying members can have a subsidised Energy Audit which gives them £100 off the cost of an audit and typically offers around 25% reduction in energy costs.
  • Parish Buying - Energy Basket - The Energy Basket offers 100% green electricity.

Reducing carbon footprint and energy bills

  • Church of England Environment Programme - The Environment programme offers a wide range of tools, case studies, webinars and videos to help churches reduce their carbon footprint. Many of these measures will also reduce their energy bills. 
  • Energy Efficiency Measures - The Church Care website includes information for churches on how to be more energy efficient.
  • Webinar on Energy Quick Wins - (Follow link and go to section on ‘Webinars on low carbon solutions – heating, lighting, solar and more’ and it is the 3rd one down) This webinar tells you where to start, if you want to reduce the amount of energy (electricity, gas and oil) that your church uses. Practical steps like setting boiler/heating controls correctly, DIY draught-proofing, timers, water saving, procurement of energy and energy bills, and basic housekeeping measures. Simple steps that don’t cost the earth.There are also pointers towards some of the next steps you might want to consider, like having an energy audit, and the support available from Parish Buying.  Monday 14th November, 4-5pm, Monday 28th November, 4-5pm. 
  • Heating your church this winter -The Church of England has tips and suggestions that will help churches use less energy and keep their energy bills under control:

Resources for those with a pension

  • Church of England Pensions Board -The Pensions Board has prepared some information focussed on individuals with pensioners particularly in mind but some aspects may help with clergy and lay workers.

Resources for households 

  • Understanding your energy bill support and discounts - This article from the Good Law project provides information and guidance about cost of living support and consumer rights. 
  • Turn2Us - Offer a simple Benefit Calculator tool and also a way of searching for local grants for people who may be in hardship or crisis.
  • National Energy Action - Offer among other thing a range of advice and support both directly to people in need, and via frontline workers and other intermediaries: 0800 304 7159 (Mon to Fri 10am-12 noon)

Maintaining church buildings 

Cost of living crisis grants

The following grants are available for organisations supporting people through the cost of living crisis:

  • Julia and Hans Rausing Trust: grants of up to 20% of annual turnover to help food banks meet their immediate financial needs until Spring 2023. Eligible costs: utilities, food, household items, core food bank staffing costs, volunteer expenses, storage and distribution. Deadline 6th December 2022.
  • Severn Trent Water: between £5K to £20K to cover the core costs of maintaining activities during the current crisis. Eligible costs: include management/ administration, utilities, fundraising, communications, governance/compliance.
  • Comic Relief (Emergency Cost of Living Appeal): to support community groups who need it most. Eligible costs could include foodbanks, mental health support, warm winter clothes, electric blankets, water bottles, energy top-up cards and food vouchers.
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