Rothbury councillor calls for council to support off-grid households in rural Northumberland

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A Rothbury councillor has called for more support to be given to off-grid rural households.

Cllr Steven Bridgett has written to Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson with the appeal.

He said: “It is my understanding (or at least I hope it is) that the council intends to support those homes across rural Northumberland that are currently off the mains electrical grid with some form of support payment towards the cost of fuel that powers their diesel generators - that in turn power their homes - in the absence of any recognition or support from central government on the matter.

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“Many of these homes are centred around the Rothbury, Wooler, Bellingham and Allendale divisions but other wards are impacted.

Cllr Steven Bridgett.Cllr Steven Bridgett.
Cllr Steven Bridgett.

“These households have seen their fuel costs increase in many instances by more than 50% and you only need to look at the government indices of deprivation (energy) to see that many of these areas were classed as being in ‘fuel poverty’ well before this latest energy crisis took hold.”

Cllr Bridgett has asked the council to consider, via the Household Support Fund (money allocated by central government to each local authority), the same level of funding that is being offered by central government for their energy bills.

This amounts to £400 per regular household or £650 for low-income households or those on universal credit.

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"Whilst this support would cover a small proportion of households in rural Northumberland, it would go a very long way in assisting them and show that while central government may have forgotten about them, we as a local authority, have not,” said Cllr Bridgett.

The issue has been acknowledged by the council leader.

Cllr Sanderson said: "We know the cost of living and in particular rising fuel costs are a concern for many residents, and those living off grid are facing particular challenges.

“While we have a number of schemes in place to help those in financial difficulty we are looking at what bespoke support can be offered to householders living off grid in some of our most rural areas."