My oral question to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on the matter of energy efficiency and how it affects households in Enfield.
Joan Ryan (Enfield North) (Lab): What steps she is taking to help households improve their energy efficiency.
he Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Amber Rudd): I am determined to help keep homes warmer for less, save carbon and meet our important fuel poverty targets. We need a long-term, coherent and affordable policy framework that ensures that Government support is targeted at those who need it most. My Department is already working closely with consumer groups and industry alike to test and develop ideas based on evidence of what works, and I look forward to setting out our approach in the autumn.
Debbie Abrahams: More than 2 million households are in fuel poverty, including 4,259 in my constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth. Energy efficiency is key to tackling fuel poverty, but with an 80% reduction in such measures in this Parliament, is the Secretary of State serious about doing that or is she just going to redefine what it is?
Amber Rudd: The hon. Lady will be aware that the previous Government redefined fuel poverty to the satisfaction of most groups, who agreed that we had proposed a better definition. She should be under no illusion: addressing fuel poverty will remain a priority of this Government. She is probably aware that the energy company obligation, or ECO, measures installed by the energy companies have been the most efficient way of delivering energy efficiency. In her constituency, 6,323 measures were installed to nearly 5,000 individual households and £700,000 was invested through the green deal communities fund. I hope that she saw some significant improvements under the previous Government and we will continue on that route.
Sue Hayman: In the coming years, there is a huge amount of proposed infrastructure investment in west Cumbria as well as a new academy school to be built in my constituency. We also have the new National College for Nuclear. What financial incentives and support will the Government provide to developers so that energy efficiency is central when we build these large projects?
Amber Rudd: The hon. Lady is right to focus on the need for energy efficiency in large buildings. I am delighted to hear about the infrastructure investment in her constituency. The National College for Nuclear will help the UK seize opportunities for economic growth in the nuclear industry and provide skills and jobs. I remind her that the DECC-funded Salix loan scheme provides public sector organisations with interest-free loans to make a range of energy efficiency improvements in their existing estates. The scheme has already supported more than 1,000 public bodies, so she might find it helpful.
Joan Ryan: Some 4,000 households in my constituency —that is one in 10—are in fuel poverty. The energy company obligation, which suffered severe cuts in the last Parliament, is due to end in 2017. How will the Government meet their responsibilities to people in fuel poverty once the ECO has ended?
Amber Rudd: The right hon. Lady is right that the ECO continues until 2017. Under the last Government, 2,000 measures were installed in her constituency, and the ECO remains a successful way of accessing homes in fuel poverty. Of course, we also have our fuel poverty commitments to ensure that, through five-year measuring plans, we deliver a C band for homes by 2030, with bands E and D on the way to getting there. There are many different ways of delivering efficiencies in homes to reduce fuel poverty, and the best thing we can do at the moment is take advice from industry and work with voluntary groups to work out what they think is the best way do that. We will come back to the House with the results of that.
The full Hansard report on this question and the Department Question session as a whole can be found here: http://goo.gl/7O2z7E