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Energy-efficient Homes

Volume 605: debated on Thursday 11 February 2016

1. What estimate she has made of the number of homes that need to be brought up to the minimum band C energy efficiency standard by 2030. (903584)

According to my Department’s latest fuel poverty statistics, less than 5% of fuel-poor households in England have a minimum energy efficiency standard of band C, leaving 2.2 million households below this standard. Bringing these households up to the minimum standard is a challenging ambition, but one we are determined to meet. That is why we have been clear that available support needs to be focused on those most in need. We will be reforming both the renewable heat incentive and the energy company obligation, to make sure that both schemes are sufficiently targeted towards the fuel poor and to tackle the root causes of fuel poverty.

The Government recently spent £50 million of taxpayers’ money assisting a bunch of big businesses such as Sainsbury’s to change their lightbulbs. Meanwhile, they halved home insulation funding in the last Parliament, which was meant to help families out of fuel poverty. I will not ask how many Tories it takes to change a lightbulb, but does that not show whose side they are on?

The hon. Lady is in danger of misunderstanding demand-side reduction. Two pilots have been launched, and both have been effective in reducing the amount of energy used, which is one of our key targets in carbon emissions and energy security. That in no way interferes with our key objective of ensuring that we reduce fuel poverty at all levels.

Would my right hon. Friend be good enough to publish the statistics for Northamptonshire for the number of homes that do not meet that standard? One of the big issues we have in Northamptonshire is the very large number of new houses being built. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that all those new houses are required to meet that minimum standard?

I would be delighted to publish those statistics and will write to my hon. Friend with them. New-build houses are always built to a far higher standard than the existing build. The challenge of fuel poverty is almost eradicated for new builds, so I hope his constituents will be able to welcome affordable, warmer winters in future.

Has the Secretary of State managed to have any discussions with her Welsh Government counterparts about the wonderful Arbed scheme? Arbed in Welsh is to save. The scheme worked with 28 social landlords in its first phase, and worked with more than 5,000 homes on energy efficiency in its second phase. It is funded partly by European structural funds. It is a great example of energy efficiency and a great reason for Wales to stay within the European Union and the United Kingdom.

That is a very interesting proposal from the hon. Gentleman. I clearly should spend more time talking to my Welsh counterpart in order to learn from the good work that the Welsh Government are doing to address fuel poverty.

The Energy Saving Trust has a useful website that directs people to the boiler grant scheme that we operate in Northern Ireland—a package of energy efficiency and heating measures is tailored to each household. Will the Minister consider that Northern Ireland example and consider providing something similar on the mainland UK?

I am aware of the interesting boiler scheme that is being run in Northern Ireland. I welcome such initiatives to address the difficulty of fuel poverty and of reducing heat and carbon emissions. The Mayor of London has launched a similar scheme. We will look carefully at how that works to see whether we can adopt it in the United Kingdom.