Ministers have been blasted for their "lamentable" response to Storm Arwen, as thousands of homes across the North East remain without power today.

Northern Powergrid have said technicians are installing temporary fixes and using generators, and had been able to deploy helicopters to survey damage since winds had died down.

But roughly 18,000 homes in the region are still without power, five days on from the storm.

READ MORE:Go here for the very latest breaking news updates from across the North East

Easington MP Grahame Morris, speaking in the Commons, said: “The performance has been lamentable. There’s been a complete lack of planning and foresight.”

Mr Morris pointed to the Met Office issuing a red weather warning last week and asked what preparations were made, including moving emergency supplies to the area and identifying emergency accommodation.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng sidestepped the question and said it was the responsibility of local resilience forums to lead on the storm response.

He said: “They’re precisely the organisations who know what the situation is on the ground and those are the people that I and the department have been engaging with.

“They are responding extremely effectively to this difficult situation.”

Durham City MP Mary Kelly Foy said some of her constituents “are actually facing a full seven days without heating or electricity", branding it a "national scandal”.

Ms Foy asked what the Government would be doing to help the most vulnerable residents to get the help they need “not tomorrow, not next week, but today?”

Mr Kwarteng again pointed to the local resilience forums, saying: "That is their job in the first instance, to find out what’s going on and to co-ordinate local responses.”

But he said the Government is “very focused” on getting the local resilience forum what they need.

Fellow Durham MP Richard Holden asked if residents in rural areas would be reconnected before Christmas, to which Mr Kwarteng said: "I think being without power until Christmas is simply unacceptable.

"I'll do everything I can to make sure that that doesn't happen."

Engineers have so far reconnected 97% of homes affected by the power cuts, with the majority of those still affected living in remote locations where access for crews is difficult.

Energy Networks Association director Ross Easton said: “Network companies have continued to make progress overnight against some challenging conditions.

“While this number is increasing all the time, the remaining 30,000 homes are in some of the worst-hit and often remote areas of the country.”

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