There are a number of Government policies that support small and medium-sized enterprises. The green deal, for example, will be available to SMEs when it is launched next year. It will enable them to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, thereby reducing carbon emissions and energy costs. The green deal will also drive demand for energy efficiency products and services, from which SMEs will be able to benefit.
Ormiston Wire in Isleworth has previously won the Queen’s award for sustainable development, and has a wealth of experience in wind turbines, solar panels and energy-efficient lighting. Will the Government ensure that SMEs such as Ormiston Wire are represented in the discussions on the green deal, to ensure that SMEs are given real support for any energy-efficient schemes?
I am delighted to hear from my hon. Friend of the steps that Ormiston Wire has taken; they are typical of the measures that many companies have taken. The green deal is a way of encouraging SMEs to put in place energy efficiency measures, and I am glad to see that they are taking advantage of that. The feed-in tariff regime will also encourage them to look at microgeneration.
One of the key aspects of the green deal is that companies will be able to seek an assessment and take it to any green deal provider. This will provide real consumer choice. We have found it most encouraging that providers have been coming forward and offering their services, because they see this as good for growth in the economy as well as for energy efficiency.
But may I urge the Minister to press the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to do more to engage with SMEs on the green deal. The experience of a small enterprise in my constituency is that officials have stopped talking to them and that BIS is going ahead instead with trials with large organisations such as B&Q. More joined-up working is needed.
I am intrigued to hear what the hon. Lady has said and I would be grateful if she gave us more information about it. We have regular contact and a very constructive relationship with BIS, which is looking at a finance aggregator to try to help SMEs to take advantage of the opportunities available within this package. The whole issue of financing is at the core of the work that BIS is doing. If the hon. Lady would like to give us more information, we could respond in more detail to her particular concerns.
With growth flatlining and unemployment rising we urgently need a plan to get our economy growing. That means creating jobs, particularly for Britain’s 2 million small businesses. That is why we proposed amendments to what is now the Energy Act 2011 that would have boosted small business. We suggested lowering the cost of administration to give small businesses, along with charities, social enterprises and co-operatives, fair access to the green deal marketplace. Will the Minister tell us why the Government voted in Committee against supporting small British businesses, and will he commit today to backing our plans in secondary legislation?
We are absolutely committed to small and medium-sized companies having access to these issues and we are keen to find the best way of dealing with it. In that respect, we are committed to bringing forward further measures. As for the delays, the hon. Lady should be aware that we proposed a green deal, exactly as it is now, in the Energy Bill of 2010—almost two years ago—and it was voted down in principle and in concept by the then Labour Government, who have lost us nearly two years in rolling out energy efficiency.