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Energy Efficiency

Volume 578: debated on Thursday 3 April 2014

Over 600,000 homes have so far received energy-efficiency improvements as a result of the coalition’s energy company obligation and green deal initiatives. Green deal assessments are stimulating interest. There had been more than 160,000 green deal assessments by the end of February, and yesterday we announced an additional £88 million from the Government to drive a street-by-street roll-out of the green deal under the communities scheme. We expect the green deal market to continue to expand during 2014.

My constituent, Mr Davis, has late onset spina bifida. He needs a wide range of electrical equipment just to live his daily life, including an electric bed and wheelchair, and machines to keep his legs from swelling. Because Mr Davis has an occupational pension and is not in receipt of means-tested benefit, he cannot get any of EDF’s energy-efficient schemes or special tariffs. As a result, he pays £250 a month for electricity. After this week’s Work and Pensions Committee report criticising the Government for targeting disabled people, what can the Minister do to help Mr Davis?

I am very concerned about the point that the hon. Lady raises about her constituent. Obviously, there are some specifics involved—for example, how much his occupational pension is. Clearly, she is concerned and I would be happy to look at the matter in more detail if she would like to meet me.

The Minister keeps making announcements about how well the green deal is going, but it does not seem to be going very fast. No one today has mentioned smart metering. Many of us thought the way to make our constituents more conscious of how much they are spending on energy and reducing it would be through smart metering. How is smart metering rolling out now?

We have one of the most ambitious smart metering programmes in Europe, which we will roll out over this decade. The hon. Gentleman is right—the increasing deployment of smart meters will certainly work well with the green deal. If he talks to some of the entrepreneurs and the new companies coming into the market, which are backing the green deal and getting behind it, he will get a very encouraging picture indeed. There is a huge amount of innovation happening that we should all be proud of.

The sector with the most energy-inefficient homes is without doubt the private rented sector, with thousands of people living in cold, inadequate homes that are expensive to heat. The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) referenced the fact that the Energy Act 2011 placed a duty on the Secretary of State to introduce a minimum standard for this sector from April 2018 at the latest. The Secretary of State was worryingly equivocal in his answer. Will the Minister therefore give a cast-iron promise today that this duty will be fulfilled, without loopholes and with the minimum standard at energy performance certificate rating E by 2018?

We would not have brought forward that measure in the Bill had we not intended to fulfil it. This is a coalition commitment, which we are proud of. We will make sure that it is implemented properly and we will consult appropriately. We are proud of that Bill and we are going to implement it.