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Fuel Poverty

Volume 518: debated on Thursday 11 November 2010

5. Whether he has assessed the effect of the outcomes of the comprehensive spending review on households in fuel poverty. (23145)

The spending review committed significant resources to tackling fuel poverty. Warm Front will continue to install measures for around 160,000 households in the next two years. In addition, we are actively working on the green deal and its new energy company obligation, which will have a particular focus on vulnerable households, for the end of 2012. We have confirmed an increase to cold weather payments at £25 a week. We have also confirmed that, from April 2011, energy suppliers will provide new help with energy bills, particularly for the most vulnerable fuel-poor households, through social price support. I will make a more detailed announcement on SPS shortly.

We are grateful. A blue pencil is needed to some of these initial answers. They are simply too long.

I am grateful to the Minister for his reply, but, with respect, talk is cheap. Can he explain how massively cutting budgets to Warm Front, which does a fantastic job in my constituency, will help to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016, as per the previous Government’s target?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, fuel poverty grew year on year on year under the previous Government. It is simply a fact that 4 million households are now in fuel poverty; five years ago, 2 million households were in fuel poverty. If we had carried on with Warm Front business as usual, the fact of the matter is that it would have taken more than 20 years to achieve the 2016 target. We need a fresh approach, we need to bring in private investment and we need to create new markets. Only then, with the ambition that we have in the new coalition, will we really stand a chance of tackling fuel poverty.

Answers really must be shorter from now on. The Minister has been too long, and that is the end of it.