Greater Manchester residents told they can keep warm in libraries this winter as energy bills soar

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Town halls will be targeting funding to those most at risk or in need, providing financial support and advice - and opening up libraries as ‘heat banks’.

Households across Greater Manchester are bracing themselves for a long hard winter that it is feared could leave many choosing between heating and eating.

The Bank of England has warned that a typical home will be paying almost £300 a month for their energy from October, with the price cap due to rise by 70%.

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Meanwhile the price of food, fuel and other unavoidable costs continues to skyrocket with inflation now set to hit 13%.

The charity National Energy Action predicts one in three consumers could be plunged into fuel poverty if energy bills rise as much as expected.

Against such a grim backdrop, Greater Manchester councils are already putting plans in place to help their residents get through the cold and worrying months that lie ahead.

Among the measures being implemented are ‘heat banks’ – spaces where people who can’t afford to heat their home can go to stay warm.

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Town halls will also be targeting funding to those most at risk or in need, providing financial support and advice and implement wider anti-poverty strategies.

Below is how each local authority in the region is planning to tackle the deepening cost of living crisis this winter.

Financial support is available to eligible people in Greater Manchester this winter Credit: Creative CommonsFinancial support is available to eligible people in Greater Manchester this winter Credit: Creative Commons
Financial support is available to eligible people in Greater Manchester this winter Credit: Creative Commons


Bury council has no plans to introduce heat banks at the moment, instead concentrating on identifying those in greatest need and ‘proactively assisting them’ in their own homes.

Town hall bosses this week approved a new ‘cost of living/anti-poverty strategy, which includes ‘very targeted’ allocation of more than £1.5m in household support funding. There is also an additional £340,000 to support people in specific ways – such as a £100 payment to all pensioners on council tax benefit.

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Other funding pots include a hardship fund for both pensioners and those of working age, along with support for families through free school meals over the holidays and grants towards school uniforms.

Councillor Richard Gold, cabinet member for communities and finance, said: “People in Bury have been through a really tough time over the last couple of years with Covid, and are now facing huge challenges with the cost of living.

“This is being driven by high levels of inflation, with wages and benefits not keeping pace with matching price rises. This is particularly noticeable in relation to the increased costs of food and fuel, which have been driven by national and international factors. These pressures are not felt equally, and have a disproportionate impact on particular households.

“Our plan for post-pandemic recovery has to be about more than simply helping people get through the day-to-day struggle. We also need to put in place measures that will help people become more resilient over the long term.”

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Town hall bosses are looking at a ‘wide range’ of support measures for residents throughout the winter. 

These should be firmed up over the next couple of weeks but will include existing schemes such as the Money Skills service, various grants and local welfare provision.

While there are no current plans for heat banks, people have been using the borough’s libraries to keep warm for some time now and that is likely to increase this winter.

Standish LibraryStandish Library
Standish Library


Chiefs are aware that pressures will ‘ramp up’ this winter but were unable to go into any detail about potential schemes.

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However, the situation is being monitored closely, with the authority saying it is very much a ‘watching brief’ at present.


Bosses are discussing what action to take after holding a ‘cost of living summit’ last week.

Further details are expected soon, with council leader Coun Amanda Chadderton admitting the situation facing people is ‘worse than at any point during the pandemic’

“Times are tough for everyone but it’s residents on the lowest incomes who are feeling the effects of rising prices the most,” she said.

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“Wages haven’t changed and for some they’ve not been keeping pace with inflation for years. That’s especially true of key workers – the same people we depended on during the pandemic.

“I know that Oldham residents are going to be making tough decisions this winter, if they’re not already, and if the government isn’t going to step in with a short-term plan then we need to.”


The council said it would continue to work with partners, the community and the voluntary sector to support households in greatest need – as it has done since the beginning of the pandemic.

This could involve some form of heat banks according to one senior councillor.

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Deputy council leader Daalat Ali said: We are developing a joint plan around supporting households most at risk over the Winter period and will be discussing how people might access warm buildings.”


Council bosses say they are concerned about the impact the energy price increase will have on residents and are already planning for the cold autumn and winter months.

The authority wants to support people to be able to stay warm and safe in their own accommodation. However, it is also working on plans for a ‘warm welcome’ at its buildings – such as gateways, libraries and leisure centres.

Councillor Sharmina August lead member for inclusive economy, anti-poverty and equalities said: “So far we have had 5,000 applications for the Household Support Fund through Salford Assist to help people. The fund provides help with food, fuel, gas and electricity to residents in financial hardship. If you are struggling, please get in touch for support.

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Gateways across Salford are already open Monday to Thursday until 10pm, and provide a range of activities and services. 

Coun August added: “We want to provide a diverse range of activities like exercise sessions and cooking demonstrations and classes where people can take part , learn something new and make friends. Full details are yet to be confirmed but as soon as they are we will announce them.”

Households across Britain could face an annual energy bill in excess of £3,600 this winter (Photo: Adobe)Households across Britain could face an annual energy bill in excess of £3,600 this winter (Photo: Adobe)
Households across Britain could face an annual energy bill in excess of £3,600 this winter (Photo: Adobe)


Stockport Council says it is ‘acutely aware’ of the impact the cost of living crisis is having on residents – and heat banks are among some of the measures it is considering in its bid to tackle the issue.

Coun Malcolm Allan, cabinet member for finance and resources said: “We have already undertaken a number of initiatives to help our residents, both with finance and advice, and we have a number of plans for the months ahead. 

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“We are also working with the third sector and giving them support in their vital work where we can. The full council unanimously passed a motion in the last few weeks which detailed some further actions. We will continue to look at more initiatives and heat banks are among these.”


Tameside council has confirmed its libraries will be available for residents to keep warm this winter as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “We’re taking this issue very seriously and are considering all of the options available to support residents though what we know will be a very difficult period. 

“A first port of call as somewhere to keep warm would be our libraries but we are exploring what other options could also be made available. We will publicise details of all support available locally. There is also the Household Support Fund available to residents who may qualify for support.”

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Household Support Fund Information drop in sessions are available for Tameside residents on Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am-12.30pm at Level 1 of Tameside One, in Ashton-Under-Lyne.

Anyone wanting information or help with the application can attend. Those who attend a drop in for support are asked to bring a bank statement from the last three months. The scheme is a limited, fixed fund available until 30 September 2022, or when funds are exhausted.


Town hall chiefs say they are ‘working hard to ensure that the impact of the cost of living crisis is mitigated for our residents, especially for the most vulnerable households’.

A spokesperson said: “A range of measures is currently being explored in anticipation of the autumn and winter period, including potentially identifying warm locations that could benefit the wider community.”

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Wigan council has announced it is setting up heat banks in the form of its ‘Warm Welcoming Spaces’ scheme.

Councillor Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods said: “We know the rising cost of living is impacting people, and the council is committed to providing as much help and support as we can.  

 “We want to ensure that people can stay warm and healthy this winter and we know that it might be a struggle for some to have the heating on, with the energy prices set to increase again.

 “That is why we are setting up ‘Warm Welcoming Spaces‘, where people can go and sit in a warm place for free.

 “Working with local partners, we are aiming to have these ‘banks’ as widespread across the borough as possible, and we will be announcing further details soon.”

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