Richmondshire community venues offered ‘Warm Hub’ funding

Groups running community venues across Richmondshire, such as village halls, social clubs and places of worship, are being offered grants to provide a warm place for residents over the winter months.

Richmondshire District Council’s leading members agreed that a £71,000 underspend from its five area partnerships should be divided equally between the areas to establish a Warm Place Network across the 1,319sq km area in direct response to the cost of living crisis.

The move follows the Government introducing the energy price guarantee and other measures to ease the financial pressure on residents, such as a £150 rebate for those living in council tax band A to D households.

The Warm Hub grants come after a Yorkshire Leaders Board (YLB) report highlighted the impacts of the cost of living crisis and proposed a potential Yorkshire and Humber-wide approach to support residents and mitigate some of the worst impacts.

The YLB report stated  figures provided by nine authorities from the region showed an average expected increase in energy costs of 141 per cent in 2022/23 from 2021/22, with a range of between 110 per cent and 164 per cent.

Officers told a meeting of Richmondshire’s corporate board the council had received numerous requests from communities about providing warm and welcoming places this winter particularly for elderly and vulnerable people who will struggle to afford to heat their homes.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale, told the meeting Colburn Village Hall had seen its gas bill had rise by £1,000 just for month’s usage.

She said: “They need some additional funding so you can have people in these spaces because that is a cost to that building.

“It is already a Warm Hub six mornings a week and each day it is getting busier and busier. Four weeks ago on a Monday you would be lucky to get anybody through the door. You can 100 people through the door on a Tuesday.”

Following concerns being raised about complexity of previous grant schemes run by the council proving to be prohibitive to applicants, members received assurances that the Warm Hub funds, which will be given for costs ranging from providing food or transport to heating bills, would be simple to apply for.

An officer told the meeting: “We will be looking at anything and everything that is a legitimate cost associated with putting on that particular warm space.”

The meeting was told that given there are 54 parishes in Richmondshire, the £71,000 would have to be spread “fairly thinly”.

Councillor Kevin Foster added it would be good if some of the Warm Hubs could be open in the evenings when many people were not at work.