Speech

Greg Barker speech: Green Deal and Big Society event

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Check against delivery Good morning and welcome to the Royal Society. I can’t think of a more appropriate venue to hold this fantastic event…

Check against delivery

Good morning and welcome to the Royal Society. I can’t think of a more appropriate venue to hold this fantastic event; historically it has provided a cradle of rationalist new thinking which powered the UK’s rise to pre-eminence in global trade and leadership.

That, in no small measure is what the Prime Minister’s pledge to be the “Greenest Government Ever” is all about. But our aim is to do that through helping families and communities to drive revolution in energy efficiency, Big Society not Big Government. So I am delighted to see so many of you here, particularly as I know many of you have travelled long distances to join us today. I am sure you will find the day constructive and exciting.

Why do I say exciting? Because the Green Deal is the largest and most ambitious home improvement programme our country has seen since the second world war. It will transform our old draughty homes and ensure they are fit for the future.

We estimate that between £2-3 billion worth of energy is wasted every year because our homes are poorly insulated and inefficiently run. Under the Green Deal, households could save hundreds of pounds a year once the measures have been paid off. That will flow through to their spending power, boosting living standards.

The Green Deal will see energy saving packages worth thousands of pounds installed in millions of homes and businesses, up and down the country. The scale of our ambition is to improve 14 million homes by 2020 and a further 12 million by 2030. Many of the estimated 2.8 million businesses working out of commercial buildings will also benefit.

You are the people who are going to be at the forefront of this transformation and the Green Deal is the driving force to kick-start it.

Of course, enlightened local authorities, communities and businesses are already pioneering great work, and this event offers the chance to hear from some of those who are already working to implement local solutions to transform their communities. A chance to hear what works well and why. But importantly also I hope a chance for you to talk to one another and explore the possibilities for delivering the Green Deal in your own communities.

The Green Deal - ambition

Why should you get involved? - The Green Deal is a hugely ambitious 20 year plus framework for a long term solution to improving energy efficiency. It will provide innovative approaches to improve the fabric of buildings, reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions and deal with the root cause of fuel poverty.

It is about economic development and the opportunity to attract significant new sources of finance into your areas to regenerate whole communities.

The Green Deal is not another stop start Government driven and Government owned programme of works. We will not dictate how it should operate through top down, centrally imposed targets.

Instead it will be driven by the local know-how, innovation and the drive of people like yourselves. People who better understand the local housing stock and those who live and work in your communities.

Government will put the framework in place, but you will make it happen. Your leadership will enable us to marshal the resources that are commensurate with the scale of the challenge we face.

The Green Deal framework

The Green Deal framework places the consumer at its heart.

Firstly each premise will be assessed based, on its fabric and the energy use of its occupants, to produce a tailored Green Deal plan. This will enable the upfront investment to install measures in properties. This might include insulation, new boilers, double glazing and microgeneration.

With finance provided by many who will be entering the energy efficiency market for the first time, consumers then pay for these improvements through the resulting savings on their energy bills. The Green Deal’s ‘golden rule’ means that the resulting charges should not exceed the expected savings.

This guaranteed finance stream means that you can plan for the long term in developing projects to address the needs of your communities. Green Deal is here for the long haul not a quick fix until the money runs out.

We need to harness the ingenuity, innovation and investment the private sector can offer and drive it towards our social aims. But we will ensure that accreditation and redress is absolutely key. Anyone taking up the Green Deal will be guaranteed quality advice, products and workmanship.

These protections will be enshrined in the Green Deal legislation which sets out the framework and I am delighted that both Which? and Consumer Focus have welcomed our plans in this regard.

The Bill is progressing in the House with cross-party support which will give a lot of confidence to all those investing in this new market.

The Energy Company Obligation

To ensure that the Green Deal works for all households we are designing the future energy company obligation to offer further support to vulnerable and fuel poor households. The obligation will also support those living in harder to treat properties to ensure they too can benefit from the energy efficiency improvements the Green Deal will deliver.

We will be publishing a full consultation on the future Energy Company Obligation and the Green Deal in the autumn this year.

The role of local communities

As I said at the outset it is you who can help ensure your residents and businesses realise the benefits the Green Deal will provide.

As much as we need to draw on the resources that national brands can bring to the delivery of the Green Deal, we must ensure that there is strong local participation.

This Government is passionate about giving more power and responsibility to local people, neighbourhoods and communities to create better local services and outcomes as this will enable the Big Society.

We are keen to support and promote local energy projects and measures that provide the ability to generate an income stream which can then be reused individually or by the community.

Our ‘Community energy on line’ portal, which will be on show at lunchtime, is a tool to help communities develop their own tailor made renewable energy projects and solutions.

The people in this room represent hundreds, if not thousands, of others. You are trusted in your communities. You can reach out to engage with your residents and local businesses.

There are opportunities for Big Society style collaborations working with and through a range of partnerships and community organisations that are most appropriate to your particular areas and local needs.

You will hear about examples today of such partnerships already doing this, for example from the Severn Wye Energy Agency and One Planet Sutton.

Many local authorities are already providing leadership on the Green Deal. You will hear from Birmingham City Council this morning who are well down the road to developing a model consistent with the Green Deal approach.

I have met many others. For example, from Coventry City Council who are working to turn Coventry and Warwickshire into a low carbon economy leader. I also attended a roundtable in Brighton of representatives from local government, community organisations, business and academia to discuss how they were considering delivering the Green Deal locally. Of course there are many issues to resolve and details to get right in the secondary legislation which we will be consulting widely on in the autumn. That’s why events such as this are so vital.

Conclusion

Through the Green Deal we have an opportunity to transform the face of our homes, businesses and communities. Yes it will be a challenge but the benefits are tangible.

Real reductions in energy demand, carbon emissions and fuel bills. Healthier homes. Green jobs and more money in the pockets of consumers and businesses.

You are already at the forefront of this green revolution. But we have the opportunity through the Green Deal to scale it up. I am relying on you for the local leadership I know you can provide to make this happen.

So, I hope you enjoy the day. I would encourage you to stretch your minds and share your ideas so that the scale of our ambition for the Green Deal can be realised.

I would like now to introduce author, broadcaster and designer, Kevin McCloud who many of you will know from the Grand Designs television programme.

Kevin cares passionately about this agenda. He is a supporter of the Great British Refurb campaign which, like me, wants homes to be cheaper to run, more comfortable to live in and less polluting. A brilliant communicator, his skills will be much needed in engaging the wider public and I look forward very much to his hearing his thoughts now.