A DOZEN councils across Scotland are considering using “warm banks” to protect freezing Scots this winter.

An investigation by The National found 12 councils are planning to look into the use of public spaces for residents struggling to pay skyrocketing energy prices.

A further six councils said while they do not have plans for such measures, they wouldn’t rule them out.

Councillors across Scotland have been increasingly calling for warm banks, similar to food banks but for those in fuel poverty, amid stark warnings the price cap could rise to more than £5000 next year.

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Glasgow, Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire, South Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Perth and Kinross, Scottish Borders, Moray, South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, and Fife are all considering warm banks or similar measures.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire, North Ayrshire, Midlothian, Angus, Renfrewshire, East Lothian and Aberdeen City have said there are no plans yet to introduce warm banks but they would not rule it out.

Aberdeenshire said it is planning to use sports facilities to help those struggling.

Island council areas expressed more scepticism about warm banks than their mainland counterparts.

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Shetland and Orkney councils all said they had no plans for such measures. Orkney said a plan would be hard to implement in a less densely populated rural area over a city.

There are growing calls for public spaces to be used as warm banks, with Independent Stirling councillor Alasdair MacPherson urging the council to introduce them.

He told the Sunday National: “Nobody wants warm banks, but at the end of the day, if the price cap is going to go to £4200, we’re going to require them. That’s the bottom line. We’ll have no option. These buildings I’m talking about, they’re already heated by the council.

“Areas that I represent, the levels of poverty are quite extreme already.”

Green Stirling councillor Alasdair Tollemache agreed, telling The National it is likely non-council spaces such as churches would be involved in helping families during winter.He called for the Scottish Government to work together with local councillors, saying it’s “beyond party politics”.

The Scottish Greens in Glasgow revealed to The National their councillors had written to Glasgow Life to ask if it could operate a similar scheme to Aberdeenshire.

Scottish councils are looking to react to the energy crisisPatrick Harvie MSP, Lucy Bull - Good Green Fun and Alasdair Tollemache

Councillor Blair Anderson said: “This can’t become the new normal. Food banks have become a symbol of the past 12 years of Tories’ failure to provide for the basic needs of our most vulnerable.

“Now we’re seeing another basic necessity, warmth, being used as a cash cow for the rich – straight from the pockets of the rest of us.”

In Dundee, SNP councillor Lynne Short said as a single parent who has experienced fuel poverty, she understands the worry among families in her constituency.

She said: “The fear we have is that people will die because they’re cold and hungry.”

Short added: “I want to see the Westminster government get their fingers out and stop this being the problem it is. 

"If we have to go down certain routes then there will be no stone left unturned.”

Short said the energy crisis is a national issue that needs a national solution, urging the UK Government to privatise the energy sector. She pointed to France, poised to nationalise energy company EDF, which is experiencing just a 4% rise in energy bills.

Common Weal executive director Amanda Burgauer said councils will struggle to help the most vulnerable as they go through their own financial hurdles.

Scottish councils are looking to react to the energy crisis

She told us: “One of the reasons our homes are so expensive to heat, is that we haven’t done enough work, retrofitting older houses, as part of the energy transition.

“Councils have no money for these things. One of the places historically people used to go to keep warm during the winter would be the libraries, but so many of them have closed.

“Our solution would be a national energy company that actually owned the infrastructure and provided services at a reasonable rate.”

Such a “radical response” would likely require independence, she said.

Neil Cowan of the Poverty Alliance said: “The present crisis is the latest example of a decades-long injustice. We need to redesign our economy and rebuild our social security system so that people have the income they need to live in dignity and security.”