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Britons Turn to ‘Warm Banks’ Amid Political Turmoil and Worsening Inflation

Published: October 20, 2022
A library in Oldham, England is turned into a makeshift "warm bank" amid worsening economic outlook in the U.K. on October 20, 2022. (Image: Screenshot via Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) — As winter approaches and temperatures dip, charities and local authorities across the UK are bracing themselves for increased demand for the most basic of essentials — including heat.

To meet this need, places like Oldham Library, located in the heart of one of the country’s most deprived areas, are now offering people the chance to come in and warm up and have a hot drink.

Local authorities in Oldham have put £3 million (about USD$3.4 million) forward for measures like the warm bank, and their efforts are being matched across the country by other local authorities and charities.

In London, the Oasis Charitable Trust is piloting “the living room” — their answer to the warm bank.

The British government introduced a cap on energy costs in September meaning typical households will pay no more than 2,500 pounds (about $2,870) a year on their energy bills. That was meant to be in place over the next two years from October 1 but has now been shortened to April 2023.

Founder Steve Chalke believes that issues around heating have gained more attention this year because issues typically felt by the poorest in society are now being felt by people from across economic classes.

Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss, who just announced her resignation on Thursday, Oct. 20, has experienced a tumultuous start to her premiership since starting six weeks ago.

Complaints have included a series of economic U-turns that have aggravated financial markets, deepening the cost-of-living crisis, and seen rising fuel and food costs impacting Britons across the country.

By Reuters. (Production: Natalie Thomas)