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Energy Costs

Volume 541: debated on Thursday 8 March 2012

We are helping around 2 million vulnerable households through the warm home discount scheme and many more households through other schemes. The green deal and the energy company obligation will provide energy efficiency measures at no up-front cost. We are also looking to help consumers obtain better prices by harnessing their collective purchasing power.

To help businesses with their energy costs, the Chancellor announced a package of measures worth £250 million over the current spending review period.

I am grateful for that answer. Will the Minister join me in welcoming Rural Action Derbyshire’s bulk-buying scheme for domestic heating oil, which aims to bring communities together to deliver savings to heating oil customers?

I am delighted to join my hon. Friend in supporting this particular scheme. It is exactly the sort of scheme that we want to see coming forward. It gives consumers greater buying power; it helps them to negotiate a better price; it is good for them and it is good for the market.

A reduction in energy costs is one way of addressing fuel poverty, but with rising world commodity prices it is unlikely to be seen in the future. The other way of addressing fuel poverty might be to make direct payments to the more vulnerable, but again, given the financial situation, that is highly unlikely. Therefore, energy efficiency is critical. Will the Government look at making energy efficiency measures compulsory and putting them in place across the board?

We have made enormous strides on this through the green deal. We have recognised that in the United Kingdom our gas prices are the lowest in the EU15 and our electricity prices are about the third lowest in the EU15, but the total bill is much higher because our homes and businesses are very energy inefficient. The green deal was the first comprehensive measure introduced by Government to address this and to be rolled out across the housing stock. I know that the hon. Gentleman welcomes the ambition that we are setting out, and we are determined to make this fundamental change.