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Around 13,000 ‘warm banks’ operate across the UK as vulnerable households struggle to pay their heating bills due to high energy prices.
Facilities in public places such as libraries, cafes and churches were launched by councils and partner organizations amid the cost of living crisis.
Previous estimates put the number of warm banks at around 3,000 or 4,000, but an analysis of parliamentary data and a Freedom of Information request by the Labor Party revealed that there are at least 12,834 banks open across the country. rice field.
They are used by millions of people who are struggling to cover the cost of heating their homes. Currently, it is estimated that 3 million low-income households cannot afford heating costs.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the staggering number of these establishments suggests “food banks in the UK have become an everyday reality for thousands”. Stated.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that governments should not view “emergency plans” as sustainable long-term solutions for people who cannot heat their homes.
The average household energy price cap is set to rise by £500 to £3,000 in April, which is expected to push 8.6 million households into fuel shortages.
Save the Children’s UK impact director Dan Paskins has called on the government to use the upcoming budget to “do more to help families” and cut bills. .
“A year ago, it would have been unimaginable that our children would have to go to a warm bank because the house was so cold. It’s not surprising,” he said.
“We know many parents cannot afford to turn on the heating. It is unacceptable and energy prices will rise again in April.”
Labor is calling on the government to tighten the existing windfall tax and use the proceeds to block the price cap hike in April.
Ashworth says: Thousands of so-called ‘warm banks’ have now opened as energy companies are recording huge profits while families and pensioners cannot afford to stay warm.
“We thank those who are working hard to help the most vulnerable people in the absence of government support, but this should not be the case.”
Richard Wenham, Deputy Chair of the LGA’s Resources Committee and Senior Conservative Councilor, said: Not a sustainable solution for closing the gap between income and current cost of living. ”
A government spokesperson said: From 2023 to 2024, he will provide 1,350 aids to the most vulnerable households.
“Additionally, our Energy Price Guarantee will save the typical household an additional £900 this winter, an increase in benefits and public pensions to match inflation of 10.1% from April, and a Household Assistance Fund. Helping people with basic necessities.Cost.
“We will provide a further £5.1 billion to local governments this year to ensure they have the resources they need to maintain and improve frontline services, recognizing their important role in protecting the most vulnerable. To do.”