LABOUR-RUN Fife Council has been accused of “appalling inaction” in setting up heat banks for those struggling to pay their energy bills this winter.

The schemes – which are being set up in council areas across the UK as bills skyrocket – would see public buildings like libraries or sports centres repurposed to provide a warm space for those in need over the coldest months.

But Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman claims he has seen no evidence to suggest work is ongoing to provide these kinds of facilities.

It comes as the local authority is accused of having taken “no action” on the cost-of-living crisis nearly 100 days into Labour taking over the administration.

READ MORE: Scotland’s councils plan ‘warm banks’ to help freezing Scots this winter

The council was left in limbo as its leader David Ross took a two-month holiday right after taking office – holding one single meeting throughout the entire month of July and just 13 committee meetings since the administration formed.

SNP MP Chapman made a plea for “urgent action” now as experts suggested the energy price cap could reach as much as £6552 in April, following another spike in gas costs.

“Is it not abhorrent that in energy rich Scotland we are having to plead with the local Tory/Labour council to open heated community spaces so people can keep warm during a cold Scottish winter?” Chapman asked.

“As far as I can see there have been no meetings either at a strategic or local level to tackle the energy crisis that has been foisted on us by the Tories in London,” he said. “While the leader of the council has been sunning himself in Australia during the summer months, the council has been in limbo.

“Meanwhile, Councillor [David] Barratt has been working hard to prompt the council into action to get these facilities set up – and I fully support him in that. But frankly, the appalling inaction of this cobbled together political administration is ridiculous.”

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Chapman said he was not aware of anything on the agenda at the council’s upcoming cabinet committee meeting which aimed to tackle the cost-of-living situation.

“It’s time to see some urgent action from the council to get these facilities set up now – before people start to go cold in the Kingdom,” he said.

Barratt, who has been a keen campaigner for heat banks, said the scheme is needed to ensure warm and welcoming spaces are there for those who need them.

“The fact we are having to consider this is depressing and an incitement of where we are as a country,” he said.

“We are an energy rich nation without the powers to harness our own resources for the benefit of our most vulnerable communities.

“Powers to regulate the energy markets sits with a government who don’t seem to be inclined to use those powers. They are ideologically driven to favour company profits, even if that means millions fall into poverty."

Fife Council leader Ross (below) argued that the administration has agreed a programme of support for people affected by poverty, which includes £5.3 million investment for low-income families. 

The National: NANA (Image: NA)

"This is on top of the more than £11m that the council already commits directly to tackling poverty," he said.

“These measures are already underway so to claim no action is being taken is completely false.

“We have also already agreed that a full report on the implementation of these measures will be coming to the council’s Cabinet Committee in September along with proposals for further action to address any gaps in provision that are identified.

"This will allow us to judge the effectiveness of our actions over the summer and we are already looking at a range of additional measures including a ‘warm spaces’ scheme, as part of a package to support people over the autumn and winter period." 

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As of Monday, estimated energy costs have been revised up by nearly another £500.

Consultants Auxilione expect the price cap to rise to £3576 from the start of October, hitting £5066 in January before rising even further to £6552 from April.

It will then fall back a little, but still remain at what would have been record prices previously, hitting £5897 in July 2023 and £5548 three months later.

Ofgem is set to announce its price cap decision for October at the end of this week. Analysts widely expect the cap to top £3500, from £1971 today.

The UK Government has said it will not announce further bill support until a new Prime Minister is in place.