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Fuel Poverty and Green Deal (Update)

Volume 551: debated on Friday 19 October 2012

I am pleased to inform Parliament that I am today launching a competition for local authorities to bid for resources to deliver projects that will help to reduce fuel poverty, help kick start Green Deal delivery and help consumers to save money on energy bills through collective switching.

As part of the Government’s continuing efforts to tackle fuel poverty, we are seeking to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from the assistance available this winter. We are therefore offering English local authorities the opportunity to bid for up to £25 million of funding to reduce the extent of fuel poverty in their area, primarily through the provision of support for improvements to the thermal efficiency of dwellings.

Meanwhile we will continue to deliver policies that we know are making a difference to low income and vulnerable households. In England, Warm Front is still taking new applications and is easier to access following changes to the rules in September this year. We expect the Warm Home discount scheme to assist around 2 million households across Britain this year—including more than 1 million of the poorest pensioners who will receive an automatic £130 discount on their electricity bill. And the new year will see the entry into force of the energy company obligation, running in parallel with the Green Deal. This is intended to focus particularly on households that cannot achieve financial savings without additional support, including the poorest and most vulnerable, and those in hard to treat homes.

In addition we are also offering local authorities in England (outside of the authorities in the core cities that are already receiving DECC funding) the opportunity to bid for £10 million of funding to support early delivery of, and promote future demand for, the Green Deal. With rising fuel bills the Green Deal offers households the opportunity to take action to reduce their bills by improving the energy efficiency of their homes at no up-front cost.

We are aware that many local authorities around the country are well advanced in their plans for the Green Deal and we want to support them to take early action. We recently announced £12 million of funding to seven core cities to trial and demonstrate aspects of the Green Deal. This additional funding now opens up opportunities for other councils.

The Green Deal and fuel poverty competitions will be run in conjunction with a £5 million collective switching competition, aimed at supporting local authorities and third sector organisations across the country in developing innovative schemes, which will allow groups of consumers to group together, through a trusted third party, and use market power to negotiate lower energy bills.

Alongside these announcements we are today releasing details of a Green Deal cashback scheme worth £125 million to reward households acting early to improve the energy efficiency of their property through Green Deal, when it becomes available in January 2013.