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01st Nov 2022

Local council rationing hot water and heating as cost of living bites

Ava Evans

Islington residents will not have access to hot water and heating for up to 11 hours every day

Households in the north London borough of Islington will have their access to heating and hot water restricted in a bid to save cash.

In a shock decision made by the council, private tenants, leaseholders and council residents across the borough will not have access to basic amenities for up to 11 hours a day, as part of the borough’s new “efficiency measures” to reduce residents’ energy costs.

The measures will apply to any household in the borough served by a communal heating system, where heating and hot water is produced from a communal boiler in a plant room rather than each individual flat having access to their own boiler.

It means homes will only have access to hot water for five hours in the morning, and eight hours in the afternoon and evening, with restrictions already in place between midnight and 6am.

Local residents fear irregular working patterns will mean many won’t have access to a warm shower for the foreseeable future.

One resident Nicola, said she feared her children could become ill without access to heating overnight.

“It’s disgusting what they can get away with,” she said.

“Many a times over the years I’ve had to get up in the middle of the night to shower the children because they had stomach bugs.

“I have no idea what I’ll do if they’re ever ill throughout the night now. And now wanting to shut it off in the day time too, not everyone works 9-5 shifts.”

Other residents reported feeling “distressed” by the council’s “Big Brother approach.”

“They are messing up our lives.” said George, an Islington leaseholder.  “They are acting unreasonably – illegally.”

According to research by the End Child Poverty Coalition, Islington has the 4th highest rate of children living in poverty, after housing costs, in the country.

Owing to a spike in recent years, around 20,000 local children (47.5%) are growing up in households struggling to make ends meet.

Local MP for Islington North Jeremy Corbyn, said the council must put resident’s basic needs first. “Nobody should be without heating this winter,” he said. “No child should be going to bed cold.

“Any council – themselves navigating 12 years of cuts from the Conservative government – must manage their limited resources, but the priority should always be to guarantee that residents’ basic needs can be met.”

He added that the cost of living crisis had shown that the UK need a Green Industrial Revolution to guarantee universal access to low-cost, publicly-owned, renewable energy.

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “The changes to the communal heating hours were solely made to save Islington residents money on their energy bills. The council isn’t saving any money on these changes; it is spending £1.1m of its heat reserve fund to subsidise bills and soften the blow of increasing energy prices.

“The joint interventions of using £1.1m from the heat reserve fund, and reducing hours of operation for communal heating systems, will significantly cut the average household heating bill for residents who live in blocks with communal heating this winter

“Residents will be paying an average of £17.40 per week, but without this action the average bill would be three times higher, at £52.28 per week, or £226.55 per month. These actions are saving the average resident £34.88 per week off their bill.”

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