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Energy Companies Obligation

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 18 December 2014

The latest Department official statistics show that we are getting closer to reaching our target of delivering energy-efficiency measures to 1 million homes. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, we have already reached 1 million measures. In addition, legislation came into force in early December to help simplify the scheme and reduce costs. This has enabled energy suppliers to cut energy bills by £30 to £35 this year. The scheme will also be extended from March 2015 to March 2017 to provide greater industry certainty and enable us to reach an additional 840,000 homes.

I thank the Minister for her reply and welcome the news that the scheme will be extended to March 2017. Will she explain what is being done to make the scheme easier to understand and to access?

We are constantly reviewing ways to make the scheme easier and more accessible to people. We have different schemes that will add to its value. Some communities are working with our green deal communities fund in conjunction with the energy companies obligation to ensure that they reach and engage with people street by street. We want to have the widest reach possible, which includes not just the easiest to reach but the most vulnerable.

With more than 2 million people sadly still in fuel poverty, why is more than half the money being spent on this scheme going to people who are not in fuel poverty?

May I reassure the hon. Gentleman that the changes to ECO clearly did not change at all the targets to help vulnerable people. Although we made the changes to reduce the amount on the bills, we have continued to focus on vulnerable people and will continue to do so as a priority.

Will the Minister confirm that as a result of the changes to the energy companies obligation, nearly half a million homes will not be able to receive that financial assistance to upgrade their energy units to get cheaper bills?

As I just said, the Government are absolutely committed to helping the most vulnerable. Although we reduced the charges on bills to look after consumers and taxpayers generally, we were absolutely clear that the most vulnerable people would not be affected. The section of the ECO that is dedicated to helping the most vulnerable people remains in place and continues to provide support.