Storm Arwen compensation cap lifted as ‘urgent’ review launched into emergency response

·3-min read
Storm Arwen has caused 'catastrophic damage' across parts of Scotland and the North of England - Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Storm Arwen has caused 'catastrophic damage' across parts of Scotland and the North of England - Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

A £700 cap on compensation for people left without power by Storm Arwen has been lifted, as regulators carry out an “urgent” review into energy firms’ responses.

People can now claim £70 for the first 48 hours they were without power, as well as £70 each 12-hour period after that.

Ofgem said that 10,500 people were still without power in some parts of Scotland and the North of England, after the storm caused “catastrophic damage” to the electricity network.

Its review will focus on the emergency response of network companies, including their communications with customers. Ofgem will also pursue further enforcement action if it is deemed necessary.

Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem's chief executive, said: "We understand this is a really worrying time for people who are without heat and power as the severity of Storm Arwen has hit homes and businesses in the North of England and Scotland.

“The effects of Storm Arwen are still being felt, with 10,500 homes still without power.

"We accept the network companies have been working in challenging conditions, but until every home in Britain has power restored, that relentless effort must continue.

"We are launching a review into how the storm has been handled. We have strict rules on how network companies need to operate in these circumstances and we will take action if needed.

"I've launched an urgent review to see if there are things that the industry could learn from this response in order to improve our support to consumers in the future."

‘People are frustrated and angry’

Around 130 Army troops have been sent to carry out door-to-door checks in North East Scotland, where around 1,600 Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks customers remained off supply on Friday.

South of the border, Durham County Council said around 100 servicemen and women would be based in Weardale to help local people.

The Army is helping to carry out door to door checks in some areas after the carnage caused by Storm Arwen - Danny Lawson/PA Wire
The Army is helping to carry out door to door checks in some areas after the carnage caused by Storm Arwen - Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Daljit Lally, chief executive of Northumberland County Council, has also called for more support after a major incident was declared there.

Residents in affected areas have told how they have been struggling to cope over the past week.

Jessica Teasdale, 35, from Stanley, told the PA news agency: "People are frustrated and angry. Everyone is getting ill.”

Ms Teasdale's partner, Christopher Bertram, 39, said: "I am sitting looking at Jessica now and she is a wreck. She hasn't slept or washed properly for a week. She's like a shell of a person. It is awful to watch.

"I'm using my dog as a hot water bottle."

Helen Shand, who lives in Inchmarlo, Aberdeenshire, was left without electricity, and made the decision to go to her son's house in a nearby village after a few days because of the outage.

She said: "It was miserable. I have never been so cold in all my life, even the dog was cold."

Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network operator for the North East, Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, said 6,000 customers remained off supply at 11pm on Thursday. Power has been restored to 234,000 others since Storm Arwen swept across the country on Friday, November 26.

SSEN said it expects to restore power to 1,100 homes throughout the course of Friday and into the evening. Another 500 customers are expected to be reconnected throughout the course of Saturday.

A spokesman said: "SSEN welcomes Ofgem's review into Storm Arwen. Our focus remains firmly on reconnecting the remaining customers without power, and we will also be conducting our own internal review."

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