COMMUNITY spaces look set to be used to support struggling families preparing for a difficult winter.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) is looking at new ways to help residents in the face of the cost-of-living crisis.

The local authority is investigating whether or not to introduce ‘warm banks’ as a means of supporting Borderers.

A ‘warm bank’ is likely to be a community space which can be accessed by people who may struggle to cover the cost of heating during the winter months.

An SBC spokesperson said: “Scottish Borders Council is aware people may struggle to pay their heating bills this winter, due to the rise in costs, and are investigating the use of ‘warm banks’ or similar to offer support.”

Warm banks are being considered by councils across Scotland and south of the border.

For some local authorities, community spaces such as libraries may become the best option to house warm banks.

According to a survey conducted by Libraries Connected – which represents the public library sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – 81 per cent of library services expect to see an increase in the number of people using libraries as a means to stay warm.

In a report released in July, Libraries Connected said: “Libraries told us they were experiencing increased demand for information on personal finance and budgeting, for help reducing household bills and for practical support accessing food and clothing.

“They said that vulnerable people were increasingly using libraries to keep warm, to avoid paying for energy.”

In the Borders, Live Borders operates the region’s libraries and an array of other leisure facilities – including gyms and swimming pools.

A spokesperson from Live Borders told the Border Telegraph: “The cost-of-living crisis presents a significant challenge for all operators in the leisure sector, and we recognise the impact will reach deep into communities, our customers and our staff.

“We are constantly reviewing all our operations to identify efficiencies, and how to support those most in need.

“As a charity every penny spent with us is reinvested into supporting active, creative and healthy communities.

“We are working hard to ensure that our services are not impacted during the autumn and winter months.”

Later this month the Bank of England is expected to make decisions on any changes to interest rates, and in October the recently announced price cap on gas and electricity will be introduced – with the cap standing at £3,549 a year.