Our new domestic supplier obligation will provide support to over 200,000 homes per year from 2017 for a period of five years by improving energy efficiency, tackling fuel poverty, and continuing to deliver on our commitment to insulate 1 million more homes during this Parliament.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this. We will engage with the industry in order to reform these grants—the renewable heat incentive and ECO, the energy company obligation. The Sustainable Energy Association is one of the stakeholders we will work with to make sure that our reformed system delivers even better value for the people who are really in need.
We know there is a link between cold homes and excess winter deaths. Last winter, 43,000 people died completely unnecessarily as a result of the cold. What work is the Secretary of State doing with colleagues at the Department of Health to reduce excess winter deaths, specifically by ensuring that households meet minimum energy efficiency standards?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to point this out. Any excess winter deaths are too many, and we work very hard across Departments to make sure that we do what we can to help people who are in the poorest homes. We do work with the Department of Health, but also with the Department for Communities and Local Government. There is more we can do through regulation to address cold homes and some of the energy efficiency measures that I would like to put in place in existing homes.
Yesterday the Park Homes Owners Justice Campaign was here launching its new PARK-LINE helpline and talking to Age Concern about its warm homes campaign. It then delivered a petition to the Secretary of State. Can she confirm that she has it and will give it active and proper consideration?
I did receive the petition yesterday. We have already taken steps to help people in park homes by ensuring that they are eligible for the warm home discount of £140 and can apply for ECO where appropriate. However, I am always looking for opportunities to be more helpful and to give more support for people in need, so I will look carefully at the petition.
The Data Communications Company is an integral part of the roll-out of the Government’s smart meter programme, but it is now nine months behind schedule, and the delay is narrowing the window for the installation of SMETS 2 meters, with the risk that any additional cost might be borne by consumers. At the very minimum, can we have an updated impact assessment to reflect these delays and ensure that we are getting value for money for customers?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are making good progress on smart meters. My colleagues and I have regular meetings with the energy companies about progress, and some of them are even ahead of schedule. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and continue to ensure that customers get the best value from smart meters, because this is an incredibly important infrastructure project that will help to reduce bills.