New Clause 10 — Green deal installation apprenticeships

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:30 pm on 14th September 2011.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Leader of the Green Party 1:30 pm, 14th September 2011

My name is attached to five of the 15 new clauses and amendments in this group. New clause 8 would require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament within six months of the Bill’s becoming an Act with proposals on how the green investment bank could maximise take-up of the green deal.

Much more needs to be done to make the green deal as attractive and appealing as possible. Given that the energy companies have found it difficult to give away energy efficiency measures in the past, I fear that the “pay as you save” mechanism, as currently designed, will not be enough to drive the level of adoption, or the depth of the improvements that are needed for the delivery of huge emissions savings from our housing stock. In Committee we discussed possible drivers, including council tax or stamp duty rebates linked to the green deal, and reduced VAT rates for products bought under it. I support all those options, but I think that we should chiefly explore the idea of using the green investment bank to subsidise the interest rates, for all the reasons given by Andrew Percy.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned a survey. I have figures from the same survey. A key statistic that the hon. Gentleman did not mention was that about a third of home owners said that if the interest rate were set at 2% per annum, they would be “very” or “fairly” likely to take up the green deal. As the hon. Gentleman said, the figure fell to just 7% of home owners when an annual interest rate of 6% was suggested. It is clear that if the Government are still considering interest rates above 6%, they will face real challenges in attempting to drive sufficient take-up.

In Germany—which I realise operates a different scheme—an energy efficiency household loan programme offers publicly subsidised interest rates of 2.65%. That programme has achieved 100,000 residential retrofits in a year. The Government must achieve 145,000 every month if they are to fulfil the ambition that they set out at the beginning of the process, and they are intending to do that at market interest rates, which are much higher. I do not see how that will work.