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Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) rationing rules and (b) waiting times are for Government grants for householder solar heating and microgeneration schemes; and what steps he has taken (i) to increase financial allocations and (ii) to speed up processing times. (140181)

The Low Carbon Buildings Programme offers grants to householders for a range of microgeneration technologies including solar thermal hot water. There is no rationing of grants for any of the technologies supported, but we do have different grant levels with an overall cap of £2,500 per household.

The Chancellor announced in the Budget 2007 that an additional £6 million would be allocated to the household stream, taking the total available to £18.7 million. The scheme was then suspended so that we could work with key stakeholders to address operational issues encountered over recent months, and decide how to make best use of the new money.

Since the re-launch of the programme on 29 May, we have removed the cap on grants which means there are now no waiting times. Online applications are processed instantly, and paper applications are processed within five days in line with the terms and conditions of the programme.