The Progressive Alliance which runs Milton Keynes Council is to prepare an emergency plan that will provide warm spaces for people during the winter, amid concerns that rocketing energy bills will massively impact peoples’ health.
On Thursday, the energy price cap was increased with experts saying average household energy bills will now be over £3,600, with bills predicted to go even higher again to over £5,000 in January. It is predicted that the current increases will see around half of households pushed into fuel poverty and that could rise to two thirds by the new year.
While household energy bills spiral, the Council is also facing massive rises in energy costs for heating public buildings and powering street lighting. Despite this, the Council Leadership has today pledged to work to create a network of emergency warm spaces to ensure people have somewhere warm to go over winter if they cannot afford to heat their home.
This comes as campaigners such as Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert) are highlighting that unless the issue of soaring bills is tackled, we will see deaths over the winter. Public health experts are also forecasting a rise in “excess deaths.”
The Progressive Alliance’s plan could see public buildings, such as libraries, host people who need a warm space, and the Council will work with other partners to make their buildings available too.
The Progressive Alliance will also be putting forward what other measures can be taken to protect the most vulnerable from harm in early September, with more announcements likely over the autumn.
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council, said:
“The ongoing increase in prices will likely see household energy bills hit over £5,000 in January. The lack of a clear plan from the Government on how to deal with the issue means the Council must prepare for winter and have an emergency plan in place to keep people warm.”
Cllr Jane Carr, Cabinet Member for the Cost of Living Crisis, said:
“MK Council is facing massive inflation in our own costs and this is putting a huge strain on our budget. However, while we have no choice but to keep the lights on, many people are facing an impossible choice and without having an emergency energy plan in place, people will die or suffer illnesses because they cannot get warm.
“MK Council resources are stretched but our first step will be to ensure that those in the most need have somewhere warm to go. So, we will be looking at what we can do to ensure the buildings we are heating anyway can be used to provide warm spaces for people who need it. We will also be reaching out to partners to see if we can build a network of these warm spaces.”
Cllr Marland concluded:
“It is truly shocking that after months and months of warnings on energy bills, we have a zombie Government and two potential Prime Ministers with no plan on how to deal with this crisis. We are one of the richest counties in the world and we are talking about having to open public buildings to stop people freezing to death. What has this country come to? It is a consequence of 12 years of Conservative government.
“The Progressive Alliance will work to curb the worst possible impacts of this crisis, but we cannot do it all and the country needs leadership with a grip on reality to deal with the current mess.”