VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme

The VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme (EES) is to help VCSE organisations deliver more efficient services for people and communities by saving money on energy bills. Up to £23.4m is available in total. Up to £3.4m will be available to deliver Independent Energy Assessments (IEAs) for VCSE organisations and up to £20m will be available for VCSE organisations to apply for a capital grant to implement energy efficiency measures identified in their IEA.

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Scheme Overview

The VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme aims to help VCSEs deliver more efficient services for people and communities by saving money on their energy bills. The scheme has two main components:

  1. Independent Energy Assessment (IEA): This involves arranging an independent energy assessor to work with you to help identify energy-saving opportunities in your building. Groundwork will assess your eligibility and needs and will allocate an independent energy assessor if your application is successful. Up to £3.4 million funding has been allocated to carry out energy assessments and provide energy efficiency advice for VCSEs.

An independent energy assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of your building's energy usage, efficiency, and potential for energy savings, conducted by a qualified and experienced independent energy assessor. The assessment includes gathering data on costs and energy usage, examining your existing systems, providing recommendations, estimating savings, and outlining an action plan. The majority of energy assessments will involve an in person visit to your premises, however, there may be occasions when the energy assessment will be carried out virtually.

  1. Capital Grants:  Grants can be used to install capital energy efficiency measures, identified in your IEA (see above), to reduce your building’s energy costs. You can apply for a Capital Grant if you have a satisfactory IEA (see Eligibility Criteria for Capital Grants below). You can apply for a grant of between £2,000 and £150,000, with up to £20 million available in total. Cost savings should be used to support the delivery of your frontline services.

The two components have slightly different eligibility criteria. Please also note that receiving an IEA doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be successful in applying for a capital grant, but we believe the IEA will be useful in itself to help you identify a range of ways to reduce your energy bills.


Eligibility Criteria

For an Independent Energy Assessment:

●   You must be a single applicant with charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes. If your organisation distributes surpluses to individuals such as members or shareholders, you must have an asset lock and reinvest a minimum of 51% into charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic purposes. In addition, your organisation must have one of the following legal structures/statuses:

-        Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)

-        Community Benefit Society (CBS)

-        Trust

-        Unincorporated Association

-        Co-operative society

-        Community Interest Company (CIC)

-        Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)

-        Company Limited by Shares (CLS)

●       You must be based and operating in England.

●       You must be delivering frontline services or managing a building as a hub that delivers multiple frontline services. You’ll be asked to explain what services are provided within the building for which the grant is being applied, in the application form.

●       You must be able to evidence a need for energy efficiency support.

●       You must be financially sustainable, and likely to continue operating for at least the next two years.

●   You must not be suitable for loans or blended finance to fund energy assessments/audits or capital measures through other schemes. (You can check your governance documents for any restrictions or take a look here to identify if loans or blended finance are right for you:

●       Documents required – you must be able to upload your organisation’s governance document, your last set of annual accounts and, if available, your building’s energy bills from 1st October 2022 - 30th September 2023.

For Capital Grants (in addition to the above):

●       You must have been operating for a minimum of 2 years.

●       You must have an independent energy assessment identifying the capital energy-saving measures you wish to apply for.

●   You can apply for a Capital Grant if you have an existing IEA that identifies capital energy efficiency measures, includes potential cost savings, has been completed within the past two years and was conducted by a qualified and experienced independent energy assessor.

●       You must provide evidence that the energy efficiency measure(s) you are requesting a grant for will enhance your financial resilience and support the delivery of your frontline services.

●       You must provide a financial plan aligned with the payback period for the energy efficiency measures you are requesting a grant for. (The payback period refers to the amount of time for the cost of installing energy efficiency measures to be recovered through cost savings generated by those measures)

●       You must have a long-term arrangement with your premises, either owning the building or having a minimum of 2 years left on your lease and be able to provide documents evidencing this.

●       If you have a lease, you must have the building owner’s permission to carry out the capital works and they must complete our Building Owners Permission Form.

●       You must ensure that projects can be delivered within the scheme’s timeframes, with all funds spent and projects completed by March 2025. (Applications will be assessed on how well planned they are, what risk factors are involved and how complex the project is)

●       You must obtain any relevant permission for the improvements before applying for a capital grant. For example, planning permission or environmental licences, and provide copies of these. You can find information about permissions at

●       You must obtain three different quotes from builders/energy professionals outlining the costs of the improvement. We are asking for three quotes so that you can ensure best value for money, considering a range of factors including cost, quality and capacity.


The VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme aims to support voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) to improve energy efficiency and sustainability and is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of a cost of living package announced in the Spring Budget 2023.


How to apply

For further information please visit our website

Supporting information