Libraries, community centres and art galleries could become ‘warm banks’ where Britons struggling to heat their homes amid soaring energy bills shelter this winter.
Birmingham, Bristol, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen are among the UK councils exploring the possibility of public spaces being made available for people unable to afford heating in their homes.
Birmingham, England’s biggest council serving 1.14 million people, has become the latest announcing measures either providing or sign-posting the hubs, by pledging to ‘map out spaces across the city where people can go to keep warm’.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, said while local authorities were doing ‘all they can’, ‘warm banks’ were ‘not alternatives’ to providing householders with ‘adequate resources’ to make heating their homes affordable.
This was backed by the charity Age UK, who said the ‘talk of warm banks shows how incredibly serious the challenge of keeping warm this winter looks set to be, especially for older people and anyone on a low income’.
Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said that while she welcomes any strategy being suggested to help older people amid the cost of living crisis, they should not be seen as a ‘substitute for effective government action’.
She said: ‘With prices continuing to sky-rocket, life is certainly not going to be easy for many older people over the next few months. Millions are already struggling to pay for basic items and with high inflation and energy prices soaring, many face a perilous winter.