CIAC Energy Bill Rebate Injustice
Residents of the CIAC (Community in a Cube) building in Middlesbrough have released a petition protesting against the injustice that they are being denied the energy bill support available to other households across the UK.
The residents have been supported in coordinating the petition by the local tenants’ union and housing campaign group, Housing Action Teesside.
Like others across Middlesbrough and the country, CIAC building residents are struggling with the cost of living and especially with sky-high energy bills. However while the Government has announced measures including the “Energy Support Scheme” £400 rebate off energy bills, CIAC building tenants have been told they are not receiving this support.
This is supposedly because they are on a collective commercial energy contract held by the building management company CRM Limited, which is then sub-metered to the actual residents of the building. As their contract is commercial they are treated as a “business” and not eligible for any household support.
The residents in the CIAC building include both individual leaseholders, and a number of social housing tenants renting from Thirteen Group. They are all especially vulnerable to rising energy bills.
The petition calls on the Government to ensure the residents of buildings with collective commercial energy contracts receive the £400 rebate and are treated as households under the terms of any future support.
The petition further calls on the company holding the CIAC building’s freehold E&J Estates, the building management company CRM Limited, and Thirteen Group, to begin advance payment of the energy bill rebate to all residents and wait for this to be reimbursed by the Government, as without this residents will be driven into poverty and debt, and may not be able to afford rents, ground rents and service charges.
The petition has been sent to E&J Estates, CRM Limited, Thirteen Group, and the office of local Member of Parliament Andy McDonald so it can be raised with the Government.
We the residents of the CIAC building are struggling with the cost of living, just as others are across Middlesbrough and throughout the UK. Skyrocketing energy bills and food prices continue to rise far above wages, pensions and benefits, and many of us are wondering how we will make it through the winter.
The Government has announced some measures to lighten the impact of energy bills on households. The “Energy Support Scheme” includes a £400 rebate off energy bills, and the “Energy Price Guarantee” is meant to freeze bills for six months from October 2022.
However we as residents of the CIAC building have not received this support.
We have been told this is only because of the fine-print of how our building is leased. The CIAC building’s freehold is owned by E&J Estates, and administered by CRM Limited. CRM Limited has a commercial energy contract, which is then sub-metered to the actual residents of the building. We as residents have no choice in the energy supplier we use, and as part of this we are paying up to £679 per year in standing charges alone before we have used a single watt of energy.
Many of us are leaseholders directly from E&J Estates, while others of us are social housing tenants with the social landlord Thirteen (who have the leasehold on a portion of the building). However all of us are on the same energy contract.
This is where the big issue comes in – because our energy contract is in the name of CRM Limited and not in our names as individual tenants, our energy use is treated as “commercial” and not “residential”. That means:
– None of us are eligible for the £400 rebate. The Government has recognised this is a problem for many people in tower blocks across the country and promised support in future, however it has not said when this will happen. But as the cost of living crisis worsens this winter, we are desperate and cannot afford to wait to receive the rebate we have been promised.
– The freeze in energy prices will affect us, but according to the Government we will be treated as if we were a “business” (under the business “Energy Bill Relief Scheme”) rather than as individual households. This means that if future support is announced for households but not businesses, it will not apply to us.
This is not fair, and it is driving many of us to desperation.