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ACRE welcomes new grant scheme for improving village halls

National charity says £3 million fund announced by government will safeguard the future of many valued rural community buildings Timed to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the government has committed to supporting over 100 rural community buildings with capital improvements. This follows in the footsteps of investments made in village halls as part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1897) and King George V‘s Silver Jubilee (1935). There are over 10,000 village halls to be found in most rural communities across England, providing residents with what is quite often the only place to meet and socialise locally. They host a wide range of activities from exercises classes, playgroups to weddings and many accommodate vital services such as post offices, doctors’ surgeries and shops.

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£400 grant will be paid to everyone with an electricity meter

The £400 grant (replacing what was a £200 loan) will be paid to everyone with an electricity meter by their electricity retail supplier through discounts to their bills and for pre-paid meter users as a credit to their pre-pay arrangement. This means no fundamental disadvantage to off gas grid users of heating oil, they will just have very small electricity bills to compensate for much higher oil purchases. There is, of course, an issue for the small number of people not on the electricity grid at all who will get nothing. There will however be the question of people off the gas grid having to find very large sums to re-fill their oil tanks when the £400 will drip into their accounts by way of reduced electricity Bills, so the problem becomes mainly a cashflow one. For those on means tested benefits there will be £650 paid in two instalments, there are as yet no details specified about when. This could help with the cashflow issue depending on when it is paid. There may be a case for ACRE and other rural organisations to call for this to be paid up front to those off gas grid in order to enable them to fill oil tanks over the summer and smooth out demand whilst enabling timing choice to get the best price.

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