The green deal is a completely new market-led initiative for installing energy efficiency measures. We expect demand to build over time, so forecasts are difficult, but the green deal impact assessment estimated that about 223,000 households would take advantage of the scheme in year one. On day one, 42,000 people visited the website for information.
The golden rule in the green deal should mean that the vast majority of people, on a like-for-like basis, will be better off, even after financing is taken into account. It is about time that Labour stopped running down the green deal; stopped running down all the small and medium-sized enterprises and small businesses investing in this new opportunity; stopped running down all the people training up and getting skills for this new opportunity; and started talking up the British economy, rather than scoring cheap political points.
It is because my Labour colleagues want the green deal to work that we are trying to hold the Government to account over the practicalities of a scheme that we have been talking about for the past two years.
The Government predicted that the green deal would create 100,000 jobs by 2016, but the Insulation Industry Forum estimates that since its soft launch in October more than 83,000 insulation projects have been cancelled or put on hold and that 4,200 people have lost their jobs in the sector. What has gone wrong?
We are at the dawn of a far more exciting and expansive long-term project. We are talking not only about lagging lofts, but about the whole-house retrofit of millions of homes, and our impact assessment shows that we will create tens of thousands of jobs by 2015. Perhaps the hon. Lady would stop scaremongering about interest rates and start getting behind all the consumers and small businesses that will benefit from the green deal.