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18 Feb 2008 : Column 385W—continued

Energy: Warrington

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to reduce energy costs to (a) low income families and (b) vulnerable people in Warrington. [184775]


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Malcolm Wicks: Action to reduce energy costs for those on low incomes cuts across several Departments. The Government have a package of measures in place to support vulnerable households to reduce energy costs.

We have announced that spend on energy efficiency measures for those on low incomes for the period 2008-11 will be in excess of £2.3 billion. Since 2000 the Warm Front programme has helped over 14,000 vulnerable households install energy efficiency measures in Warrington.

In the Energy White Paper we made it clear that we expected energy suppliers to have a proportionate programme of assistance in place for vulnerable customers. Energy companies have responded positively and have recently increased the level of support they provide to vulnerable customers from £40 million to £56 million this winter.

Engineering

Mr. Olner: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the contribution of the engineering industry to the economy in 2007. [182950]

Malcolm Wicks: The engineering industry, counting the sectors defined by the Community Innovation Survey as engineering-based manufacturing industries, contributed some £57 billion gross value added to the UK economy in 2006, the last year for which figures are available.

Export Control Act 2002

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he expects to publish the Government's response to the consultation on the review of the Export Control Act 2002; and if he will make a statement. [181739]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government published their response on 7 February 2008. The response is available from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) at:

Exports: China

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether any commercial export contracts were agreed (a) during and (b) as a result of the Prime Minister's recent visit to Beijing. [182692]

Mr. Thomas [holding answer 28 January 2008]: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, witnessed a number of commercial contract signings during the recent visit to Beijing.

It is too early to say what the commercial results of the visit were. However, I am confident that following discussions and agreements reached during the visit, including the announcement of a new $60 billion bilateral trade target, and the business matching event
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involving British and Chinese companies, there will be a significant number of commercial relationships arising from the visit.

Fair Trade Initiative

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his Department’s policy is on the use of fair trade goods (a) in staff catering facilities and (b) at official departmental functions and meetings; and if he will make a statement. [183849]

Mr. Thomas: My Department has adopted a policy to use fair trade products within its catering operations and includes a clause within the contract specification with its catering service provider.

Farepak Response Fund

Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will place in the Library a copy of the Farepak Response Fund accounts for the period from 10 November 2006 to 31 July 2007; and if he will make a statement. [184734]

Mr. Thomas: I will arrange for a copy of the accounts to be placed in the Library promptly.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps have been taken to assist the fuel poor in meeting any increases in electricity prices resulting from the renewables obligation. [175694]

Malcolm Wicks: Government measures outlined in the UK Fuel Poverty 5(th) Annual Strategy Progress Report are aimed at ensuring the fuel poor are able to meet their fuel bills. Since 2000, the Government have spent £20 billion on benefits and programmes, including the winter fuel payment which helped keep 11.7 million people warm in the winter of 2006-07.

In addition, the combination of Warm Front funding of just over £800 million for the 2008-11 period and the focus on low income and elderly consumers through the priority group obligation in the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) mean that spending on energy efficiency and other measures in low income, elderly and disabled households is expected to rise by £680 million to around £2.3 billion compared to the previous spending period.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps the Government has taken to reduce levels of fuel poverty since 1997. [178470]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 22 January 2008]: The Government developed a strategy for tackling fuel poverty which was published in 2001. The strategy focuses on improving the energy efficiency of low income households and increasing their income.

Since 2000, the Government have spent £20 billion on fuel poverty benefits and programmes. Winter fuel
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payments that helped 11.7 million people keep warm last winter will continue for the rest of this Parliament. The Government have also announced that spend on household energy efficiency measures for the period 2008-11 will be in excess of £2.3 billion—£680 million more than the previous spending period.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of social tariffs for energy supplies in alleviating fuel poverty. [184996]

Malcolm Wicks: In the Energy White Paper the Government asked the energy companies to provide a proportionate programme of assistance to vulnerable consumers. Following analysis of Ofgem's review of energy suppliers' social initiatives, the Government found that the energy companies offered an extensive range of social programmes, including social tariffs, trust funds and rebates, and concluded that the energy companies were offering a proportionate level of assistance. A supplier is deemed to be offering a proportionate level of assistance if it is offering measures around or above the industry average at the time of the publication of the White Paper. The energy companies have increased their contribution from £40 million to £56 million this winter, lifting a further 70,000 households out of fuel poverty by the end of 2007.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to his answer of 15 October 2007, Official Report, column 805W, on fuel poverty, what the duration is of each of the social initiatives announced by the six major energy suppliers in light of the 2007 Energy White Paper; and if he will make a statement. [185262]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 7 February 2008]: In the Energy White Paper, we made it clear that we expected energy suppliers to have a proportionate programme of assistance in place for vulnerable customers. Energy companies have responded positively and have recently increased the level of support they provide to vulnerable customers from £40 million to £56 million this winter. Further details about the duration of these programmes will be provided in due course.

Fuel: Meters

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps are being taken to reduce the difference in costs between those paying for fuel on prepay meters and those paying by direct debit. [185295]

Malcolm Wicks: The costs associated with pre-payment meters reflect the higher cost of the meter itself, as well as that of the complex payment and support infrastructures required to support them, involving suppliers, meter owners and thousands of retail outlets.

Gas and electricity suppliers have been considering their tariff structures and two companies have equalised their standard credit and prepayment prices for electricity, while one offers prepayment customers a
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lower price for both fuels than that paid by standard credit customers. In addition, some suppliers offer social tariffs and other measures that benefit their most disadvantaged customers.

I will continue to look with Ofgem and the energy companies at ways of reducing the costs associated with prepayment meters. I also support Ofgem’s work to promote access to cheaper payment methods, especially direct debit.

The Government will shortly set out their next steps on smart meters. Such meters could significantly reduce the cost of serving a prepayment meter customer.

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many people pay for fuel on prepay meters in Sparkbrook and Small Heath constituency. [185296]

Malcolm Wicks: Splits by payment type are not available at constituency level. The lowest level of aggregation available is distribution zone, with Sparkbrook and Small Heath being located in the West Midlands. This information is published quarterly in “Quarterly Energy Prices”, the latest version of which is accessible online at

The following table shows the total number of domestic customers and the number of customers paying using a prepay meter in the West Midlands for both electricity and gas.

Total customers Pre-payment customer Percentage

Electricity

2,166,600

321,500

15

Gas

1,884,700

210,200

11


Furniture: Carbon Emissions

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans he has to encourage British furniture manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint through the use of sustainable manufacturing practices. [182246]

Malcolm Wicks: Government are taking action to encourage all parts of the economy including manufacturing to reduce their carbon footprint. The Commission for Environmental Markets and Economic Performance report published in November reported that there are opportunities for all businesses to improve eco-efficiency and operational performance by addressing the environmental impact of products throughout their whole lifecycle. The Carbon Trust offers advice and support schemes to business and more specific measures are set out in the Climate Change Bill currently going through Parliament. Government have introduced a number of initiatives which help businesses including WRAP which offers advice to manufacturers on recycling and reducing material consumption and from April the Manufacturing Advisory Service will extend its services to include improving resource efficiency in both energy and waste.


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Furniture

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many furniture manufacturers operate in the UK; how many people the industry employs; and how many items made by British furniture manufacturers were exported in the latest period for which figures are available. [182234]

Malcolm Wicks: In 2006, the latest year for which full figures are available from official statistics, the UK furniture industry had 7,327 enterprises, 110,000 employees and exported £923 million worth of goods (the number of items exported is not available from official statistics).

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the contribution to the British economy made by UK furniture manufacturers. [182235]

Malcolm Wicks: Official statistics show that in 2006, the latest year for which full figures are available, the furniture industry contributed £3,588 million in gross value added(1) to the UK economy.

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make it his policy to ensure that Government funding to support furniture manufacturing industry and its supply chain is more effective for the industry across all geographical regions. [183017]

Malcolm Wicks: Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have a remit to promote business efficiency and competitiveness and they deploy funding support according to regional priorities. The RDAs are also the principle channel for delivery of business support through Business Link and the Manufacturing Advisory Service which are available to all parts of manufacturing industry.

Government Office for London: Finance

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the Government Office for London’s budget has been in each year since its establishment. [184616]

Mr. Dhanda: I have been asked to reply.

Government office for London’s running cost expenditure is as follows:


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Total (£ million) Status

1998-99

16.0

Outturn

1999-2000

16.0

Outturn

2000-01

14.7

Outturn

2001-02

13.2

Outturn

2002-03

14.1

Outturn

2003-04

16.7

Outturn

2004-05

18.9

Outturn

2005-06

18.5

Outturn

2006-07

17.6

Outturn

2007-08

16.3

Forecast spend


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