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Green Deal

Volume 557: debated on Thursday 31 January 2013

2. What steps he is taking to encourage energy companies to deliver green deal finance through small and medium-sized enterprises. (140452)

There will be huge opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises in delivering the green deal and they are vital to its success. Our SME forum for the green deal, which has been ably chaired by the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr Raynsford), has delivered an excellent set of recommendations on which we are acting.

What advice would the Minister give my constituent, Mr Ged Smith, who runs a local energy efficiency company? Like many people in a similar position, he is on the brink of going out of business, at the cost of hundreds of jobs, because there is no sign of any funding from the utility companies through the energy company obligation, as they say that they are too busy tying up the loose ends of the carbon emissions reduction target to engage in discussions about the ECO?

I am afraid that that is not absolutely correct. I am pleased to report to the House that more than 1,000 measures have been delivered under the ECO in the past few days, even though Warm Front came to an end on 19 January. It is early days and there is a transition, but we are working with SMEs to make that transition work and the long-term prospects are bright.

I welcome the launch of the green deal this week. Consumers now need to know that it is available and must start signing up. What is the Minister doing to let people know that the scheme is available and to encourage them to join it?

Clearly the Government have a role. My hon. Friend may have seen the green deal adverts that have run in the press. They will continue to run this weekend and the weekend after. We will also be launching a digital campaign. This is a tightly focused, value-for-money campaign, not a huge advertising splurge. The real drive will come from the individual offers. What marks the green deal out as different from previous Government energy efficiency programmes is that there will be huge choice, huge competition and lots of market participants.

Does the Minister share my disappointment about the fact that many of us thought that the green deal would be an opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses up and down the country not only to fit smoke alarms and CO monitors at the same time, but to prepare for smart metering? I now understand that CO alarms will not be fitted under the green deal, unlike I was led to believe, and that smart metering has been put on hold.

First, smart metering has not been put on hold; we have a very ambitious roll-out. The green deal has got off to a good start and had 42,000 visitors to its website on Monday alone. I understand that CO alarms are part of the green deal assessment, but I will willingly discuss that with the hon. Gentleman, who I know has a long history on the issue.

I welcome greatly the launch of the green deal and hope it will be successful. Will the Minister ensure that, among others, the chambers of commerce and all trade federations are informed about the green deal directly, and that all local authority libraries also contain the information?

We are making the information available widely online and we have a range of outreach activities, including round tables. Local authorities are a particularly important partner in the green deal, and I am delighted that a number of the largest metropolitan areas have been core partners in the “go early” project. I will ensure that the organisations mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman get the information.