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Fuel Poverty: Energy Efficiency Schemes

Volume 602: debated on Thursday 19 November 2015

6. What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department’s spending on energy efficiency schemes in reducing fuel poverty. (902224)

18. What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department’s spending on energy efficiency schemes in reducing fuel poverty. (902240)

From 2013 to the end of August this year, the energy company obligation had installed about 887,000 energy efficiency measures in more than 700,000 households on low incomes or in deprived areas. We are clear that the support should go to those in the greatest need.

I thank the Minister for her answer, but the huge drop in the installation of energy efficiency measures over recent years gives me no confidence that the Government are taking the scandal of fuel poverty seriously. Research by the Association for the Conservation of Energy has shown that the installation of energy efficiency measures dropped by a staggering 65% between 2012-13 and 2014-15. What steps is the Minister taking to reverse that shocking trend?

We are proud to have achieved more than 887,000 measures on energy efficiency. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said yesterday, we will redirect our ECO budget in the coming years towards those in greatest need and those who are suffering from the worst impacts of living in cold, damp or drafty homes.

With the withdrawal of Government funding for the green deal finance company, it is now even harder for overstretched families to afford energy efficiency schemes in their homes. Too often, poor quality housing stock leaves families in fuel poverty. What funding will the Minister introduce to help families to save money on their increasingly unaffordable energy bills?

The green deal plan was a small percentage of our measures, and it was closed to new entrants precisely because it did not have the take-up that we had hoped for. Some 96% of installed measures are delivered through ECO, and, as I have explained, we have put in a bid to focus our ECO even more on the fuel poor, which is our top priority.

Let us get to the crux of this issue. The Department’s stated goal is for as many fuel-poor homes as is reasonably practicable to be rated at least at band C for energy efficiency by 2030. However, between 2010 and 2013 that was achieved for only 70,000 fuel-poor households, leaving 95% still to be improved. Does the Minister accept that at that rate of progress, her Department will miss its 2030 target by 100 years?

I do not agree with that. The key point is that an enormous number of homes do not currently reach the band C efficiency level, and we are determined to improve that as far as possible. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced yesterday that we will focus all our energy efficiency and fuel poverty budgets on the most needy. That is vital.