‘RURAL households are suffering,’ says councillors as the cost-of-living crisis sees “Off Grid” homes relying on oil or gas for heating.

A motion passed at Oxfordshire County Council to write to the Government asking for a £400 energy grant for rural communities.

Councillor Sally Povolotsky put forward the motion on Tuesday (October 1) saying the Government has announced ‘only a £100 payment for Off Grid homes relying on oil or LPG’.

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She said: “The disparity is that most people are required to pay up front for oil, while people on mains energy pay monthly.

“Without action, this Government risks the health of many of the 1.5 million who have no option other than to use oil or LPG to heat their homes.

“Our ‘Off Grid’ houses are struggling. They need recognition for the Government, and they need to know when the extra help of £400 is actually going to happen because so far it’s just lip service.”

Labour councillor Brad Baines added: “Action on behalf of rural communities is urgently needed.

“This motion puts forward a clear statement that Tories have failed rural and wider communities.

“It’s important for us to make sure we raise our aspirations in tackling the cost-of-living crisis – therefore, the Government needs to pursue the ambition to put all insulate heat all homes and make a sustainable transition to renewable sources make the county a world leader in renewable energy as it should be.”

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Councillor Freddie van Mierlo, who represents Chalgrove and Watlington, said: “I represent a very rural part of the county and many people live without mains gas and mains sewage.

“In doing so they face large upfront costs often uncontrolled and unpredictable costs.

“Residents also face higher maintenance costs if their tanks break down for example. It’s unfortunate the Government has refused to recognise rural communities. It’s treating them as second-class citizens or a best a second thought.”

Council leader Liz Leffman added that about 55,000 households in the country are not connected to the has grid which is a ‘big problem for people’.

However, Conservative councillor David Bartholomew said councillors were acting like ‘junior MPs’ and were using the motion as an excuse to ‘sound off their personal views about national issues’.

He said: “I make a plea to the aspiring MPs amongst you to please concentrate on matters that we can influence directly, that we can help people in Oxfordshire with and no whimsical notions.”

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Despite his comments, the motion passed with 36 votes for and 14 abstentions.


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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