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Written Statements

Volume 580: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2014

Written Statements

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Energy and Climate Change

Green Deal (Home Improvement Fund)

In December, the Government announced action they were taking to reduce the impact of their policies on energy bills which included £450 million over three years for household energy efficiency. I wanted to update the House on progress. In February, we made some changes to the current green deal cashback scheme, including extending it to the end of June 2014 and uplifting some rates to boost the supply chain and help customers while we designed new schemes and consulted on our proposed changes to ECO.

In March, DECC awarded £88 million to 24 consortia in English local authorities to promote green deal on a street-by-street basis, representing a huge opportunity for local industries and the energy efficiency of those communities, including projects aimed at the private rented sector. On Thursday, I announced details of a new green deal home improvement fund. From June, householders across England and Wales will be able to get up to £7,600 back through this new scheme to stimulate warmer, greener homes while enabling them to take control of their energy bills.

The fund will help households to install energy efficiency improvements by rewarding them with money back on the cost of installing two or more of 13 measures eligible under the scheme.

Under the green deal home improvement fund, domestic energy customers can claim:

up to £1,000 for installing two measures from an approved list; and/or

up to £6,000 for installing solid wall insulation; and

up to £100 refunded for their green deal assessment.

In addition, those who have bought a property in the 12 months prior to application may qualify for up to an additional £500 if they carry out energy efficiency improvements under the scheme.

These rates are guaranteed for the first £50 million, and up to £120 million is available this financial year.

Private or social landlords can benefit from the new scheme if they undertake to improve the property and are paying the costs themselves, subject to de minimis thresholds for state aid.

We have simplified the fund’s application process for customers and opened up access to approved green deal installers as well as providers. This will expand the market for smaller businesses, while maintaining the quality of installation, and enabling them to compete for energy efficiency opportunities in new and innovative ways. It will also give more householders a broader choice in how they make and pay for energy-saving home improvements.

This is the latest in a series of measures we are taking to help families across the nation enjoy the benefits of warmer, more energy-efficient homes and lower bills to stimulate business growth and to save carbon.

G7 Energy Ministers Meeting

On 5 and 6 May I attended a meeting of G7 Energy Ministers, hosted by Italy in Rome, to discuss energy security. These discussions took place against the backdrop of developments in Ukraine. The G7 expressed concern about the energy security implications, as a consequence of Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The UK argued that we need a more energy-secure future, meaning that no single state or supplier can use energy as a weapon. The G7 has agreed to do what is needed to achieve a systematic, enduring step change to improve energy security—not just for the nations in the G7, but for our friends and allies, with a particular focus on Ukraine and its eastern European neighbours.

The principles that were agreed to guide the G7’s work on energy security were transparent competitive energy markets, diversification of energy sources, an accelerated transition to a low-carbon economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, investment in clean energy technologies, improved infrastructure and robust emergency response systems.

We committed to take immediate action to complement the European Commission’s work to develop energy emergency plans for winter 2014-15, to exchange best practice on energy security vulnerabilities, to provide technical assistance to Ukraine, and to ask the International Energy Agency to work in close collaboration with the European Commission to consider options that the G7 could take to improve gas security.

We also agreed that this should be the start of a process, which G7 leaders would consider when they meet in Brussels on 4 and 5 June 2014.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council/General Affairs Council

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 12 May, and I will attend the General Affairs Council on 13 May. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, and the General Affairs Council will be chaired by the Greek presidency. The meetings will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council (FAC)


Ministers will discuss Ukraine against the backdrop of a continued deterioration in the security situation in the east of the country. As the FAC takes place less than two weeks before 25 May Ukrainian presidential elections the Council is an important opportunity for the EU and member states to underline their commitment to supporting Ukraine to deliver free and fair elections in the face of great odds. The UK will emphasise the importance of the rapid establishment of a civilian common security and defence policy (CSDP) mission that we, together with Sweden and Poland, advocated at the April FAC, which is intended to address urgent, stability-related needs, including in the fields of security sector reform, support of police, and rule of law. The UK also expects the Council to reaffirm support for the organisation for security and co-operation in Europe (OSCE) special monitoring mission and to encourage all participating states to contribute to the expansion of the mission. Finally, there will be a discussion of sanctions, including the possibility of further measures in response to recent—and to deter further—Russian actions to destabilise eastern and southern Ukraine.

Middle East Peace Process

Ministers will discuss the latest developments in the middle east peace process. Conclusions should focus on urging both sides to avoid any steps which would make a return to talks more difficult and find the common ground and political strength to resume negotiations. This should include reiterating support for Secretary Kerry’s efforts, and highlighting the dividends of peace, such as the EU’s offer of special privileged partnerships. Trying to apportion blame for the breakdown in talks would be unhelpful. On the subject of the reconciliation deal, the EU should stand ready to engage with any Palestinian Government which upholds the principle of non-violence, remains committed to achieving a negotiated two-state solution, and accepts all previously accepted agreements and obligations, including recognising Israel’s legitimate right to exist.

European Neighbourhood Policy

Over lunch Ministers will discuss the future direction of the European neighbourhood policy (ENP). The UK’s view is that the implementation of the ENP could be improved, and that there is a need for a thorough review, taking account of member states’ views and looking at the long-term outcomes that the EU wants to deliver. The UK wants an ENP that is focused on the EU’s strategic goals—sustainable and long-term economic and political reform, within a strengthened democratic system, with a greater degree of differentiation between partners, and a continued emphasis on conditionality.

General Affairs Council (GAC)

The General Affairs Council on 13 May will focus on preparation for the 26 and 27 June European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. A draft agenda for the European Council has been circulated. At this stage the European Council looks likely to cover: the future justice and home affairs programme; economic issues, including better regulation; climate and energy including a Commission report on EU energy security; and external relations issues (likely to include Ukraine). Leaders will also attend a dinner in Ypres on 26 June to commemorate the outbreak of the first world war.