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Green Deal

Volume 560: debated on Thursday 14 March 2013

The green deal went live, on time, on Monday 28 January. The Government’s “Green Deal With It” communications campaign was launched the same day. By the end of February, according to the official statistics, 1,803 assessments had been carried out.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Major employers in Worcester, such as Wolseley, npower and Worcester Bosch, are looking forward to participating in the green deal, but the latter warned that for the programme to reach its full potential more ordinary installers need to be given the chance to sell it. What steps are the Government taking to reach out to installers and ensure that they have a chance to play a part in rolling out the green deal?

A whole range of installers will be absolutely vital, and I was delighted to see that Wolseley has said that it is seeing strong demand not only for its products, but for adviser training, as it is a trainer. For small and medium-sized enterprises, we are waiving all fees and oversight costs for the first two years. We are hosting a range of networking events with the Federation of Small Businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI, and we are co-hosting eco roadshows with Energy UK. We are also committing money to training assessors and installers, and there is more to come.

Stafford borough council is working with green deal providers to raise awareness among my constituents of access to the scheme. Will the Minister and his green deal team meet me and the council to discuss how we can encourage the best possible take-up in Stafford and the surrounding areas?

I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend and his council. We are seeing a very encouraging degree of not only commitment but real enthusiasm from local authorities across the country. Local authorities will be key to a really ambitious roll-out.

Will the Minister reflect a little further on the question that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) put to the Secretary of State—namely, are the interest rates for the green deal too high to encourage take-up and ultimately too high for consumers to get a good deal out of the green deal?

I understand what lies behind this point. However, if the right hon. Gentleman looks at this carefully, he will see that when people quote interest rates such as the one for Nationwide they are not comparing like with like. Crucially, the green deal interest rate is fixed for 20 years. I am aware of only one other such product in the market. Access to the green deal interest rate is incredibly fair and open, and not only for people who are lucky enough to own their own homes.

The Minister’s answer just will not do, because the blunt truth is that the green deal interest rate is set at almost 7%. Is it not the case that many people who take up the green deal will find that interest repayments end up costing more than the original measures, and, worse still, that if they try to repay their loan early they will be clobbered with hefty fines? How is that fair?

I will tell the hon. Gentleman what is not fair: scaremongering about the green deal, particularly when that puts off vulnerable people who would otherwise have no access to affordable finance. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman can scoff at 7%, but he should compare that to any other form of unsecured lending that is available to people on low wages or the minimum wage. How many people on low incomes, or people who are not lucky enough to be a home owner, can access interest rates like that? He might be a smart home owner himself, but he should think about those who do not have the same opportunities. This actually represents a really good deal.