DORSET Council is looking at extending the opening times of public buildings in order to provide a warm place for residents during the winter amid rising energy bills.

The council has said that it is considering a range of options to support its residents during the cost of living criss, including using public building like libraries for people to keep warm.

More councils across the country have signalled using churches, community centres and libraries as so-called ‘warm banks’ for people unable to afford to heat their homes this winter.

Birmingham, which is England’s biggest council serving 1.14 million people, has announced measures either providing or sign-posting the hubs, by pledging to “map out spaces across the city where people can go to keep warm”.

Other councils have now started mulling similar plans for either setting up, supporting or highlighting the locations of ‘warm banks’.

It comes as the average householder’s yearly energy bill is set to rise from October to £3,549.

A Dorset Council spokesperson said: "We are currently working with a range of community and voluntary organisations to make sure Dorset residents are supported as best they can during the cost of living challenge. We are considering a range of options including whether to extend opening of public buildings, such as libraries, to help people have safe and warm places to be during the colder months."

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, said while local authorities were doing “all they can”, ‘warm banks’ were “not alternatives” to providing householders with “adequate resources” to make heating their homes affordable.

Cllr Andrew Western, chair of the LGA’s resources board, said: “Councils and local partners will continue to do all they can to protect those on the lowest incomes against the rising costs of fuel, food, transport and other essentials.

“As we enter the forthcoming winter months, councils are taking practical steps to support people in their community who need it the most.

“These include the development of warm hubs in some areas as well other important initiatives that are aimed at both addressing immediate hardship and building longer-term financial resilience and wellbeing.”

He added: “Although councils are doing all they can to help residents, these schemes are not alternatives to ensuring people can afford to heat their homes through the winter months.

“The mainstream welfare system should ensure people have sufficient means to meet true living costs and councils and local partners need adequate resources to provide targeted and effective crisis support alongside services which increase opportunity and lift people out of poverty for good.”

The Government has said it will continue to “make sure that people have got the resources to heat their own home”.