As news of a recession later this year looms and energy prices continue to rise for consumers, Councillor Mazher Iqbal of Sheffield City Council has revealed that the city’s ‘cost of living crisis taskforce’ is looking into opening up a ‘heat bank’ this winter – in a bid to help struggling families stay warm throughout the colder months.
The idea would see community buildings open to the public throughout the day, and, of course, warmed up to allow customers to keep the heating off at home and save some cash, reports the Yorkshire Post.
Councillor Iqbal said: “I was commenting when Centrica announced record profits last week that nobody is coming out and saying, ‘this is what we are going to do for our customers, especially the ones that are facing difficulty.”
Adding: “The Government is doing a U-turn and nowhere are the political parties asking for a levy on firms. These profits are not for 12 months – these are profits made in three months – they say they’re world record profits.
“We know that we have so many vulnerable people in our city. That’s why we’ve set up this cost of living group, led by council leader Councillor Terry Fox.”
“We’re looking at how do we support warm banks across the city? It’s a conversation that only started yesterday. We on the Labour group, before we went into the committee system, agreed £3.5 million to spend on local community and council-owned buildings.
“We were looking at how do we meet our ambition of net zero (on climate change)? We are hearing that so many people are not going to be able to keep themselves warm because of these frightening costs. We’re going to be speaking to community groups.”
It’s estimated that the council could provide insulation to heat 13 buildings with its current budget, which, while unfortunately not enough for the scale the council would like to provide, would surely help hundreds of citizens as the cost of living crisis continues.
The idea comes as it’s revealed fewer people are now able to continue donating to food banks as the crisis rages on, leaving fewer supplies for those in need.
Ofgem confirmed today that the energy price cap will be updated every three months instead of just twice a year, allowing providers to charge prices more in line with the wholesale price. Customers have been warned they face a price hike this October when the price cap changes again.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition said of the change: “Households will face a two-stage cost of living crisis this winter, thanks to Ofgem’s confirmation that energy bills will go up in October and again in January.
“Ultimately, this decision will force more people into fuel poverty in the middle of winter, causing additional stress on the NHS and it may ultimately lead to increased levels of excess winter deaths this year. It is simply inhumane.”
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