Previous Section Index Home Page

21 July 2009 : Column 1631W—continued

Hospitality received by my officials follows Civil Service Guidance that any hospitality should be "conventional, normal and reasonable".

Energy Supply

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what monitoring his Department is undertaking of the effects on (a) payment method preference, (b) levels of debt and (c) levels of disconnections of domestic energy consumers of (i) recent and (ii) anticipated increases in energy prices; and how much funding his Department has allocated to provide domestic energy customers with energy efficiency advice and information. [289136]

Mr. Kidney: DECC analyses data from a number of sources on conditions in the household energy supply markets. DECC monitors and publishes data on average bills by payment method, and on numbers of customers on different payment methods. Ofgem monitors and publishes data on levels of debt and on disconnections.

The Government provide the Energy Saving Trust with annual grant funding (circa £37 million in 2009-10) to manage the Act on CO2 helpline and advice centres. This provides consumers a central free source of impartial advice on energy efficiency, microgeneration and renewable energy, low carbon transport, water efficiency and waste reduction, as well as easy access to a range of energy efficiency offers.

Energy: Meters

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what evidence his Department has received from the Energy Retail Association on the costs of those smart metering; and what further steps his Department has taken to establish implementing costs. [289217]

21 July 2009 : Column 1632W

Mr. Kidney: The Department published Impact Assessments on 11 May, which set out the costs and benefits of different options for rolling out smart meters to both domestic and small and medium-sized enterprise public sector energy consumers. In preparing these assessments my Department took into account information on costs and benefits from a wide range of sources, including information provided by energy supply companies who are members of the Energy Retailers Association.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change which energy providers supply smart meters to their residential customers free of charge. [289218]

Mr. Kidney: The provision of intelligent metering to domestic customers and the terms on which such metering may be offered is currently a matter for energy supply companies. The Department does not collect information about this matter.

Energy: Prices

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) how many households were on a social tariff from their energy supplier in each of the last five years; [283249]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of households in receipt of a social tariff from their energy supplier who paid less than they would on the cheapest non-social tariff offered by that supplier in each of the last five years. [283250]

Mr. Kidney: Ofgem monitors the energy suppliers' social programmes on behalf of Government. They have published data on the number of customer accounts on a social tariff from their energy supplier for each of the last two years to 31 March 2008. Their latest report also estimated that, as at the end of October 2008, over 800,000 customer accounts were on a social tariff. In addition this report compared the range of savings between a supplier's social tariff and their cheapest non-social tariff offered during 2007-08. Numbers of customers on social tariffs and the range of savings from them are set out in the following table:

21 July 2009 : Column 1633W

21 July 2009 : Column 1634W
Supplier/tariff name Energy type Total customer accounts on a social tariff as at 31 August 2007 Total customer accounts on a social tariff as at 31 March 2008( 1) Range of savings over supplier's best offer, 2007-08( 2)

British Gas/Essentials













EDF Energy/Energy Assist




46 to 55




67 to 91





E.ON (Powergen)/Social StayWarm




Because of the structure of this tariff it is not possible to compare it for this analysis.







Npower/First Step




7 to 28




17 to 38





Scottish Power

Social tariff launched on 1 April 2008

SSE/EnergyPlus Care




36 to 50




32 to 56


















(1) To 31 March 2008, Ofgem defined a social tariff as needing to be at least equal to the supplier's standard direct debit tariff. Going forward, to qualify as a social tariff it has to be at least as good as the lowest tariff that supplier offers in the customer's area.
(2) As these savings were calculated over the year 2007-08 and the numbers on a social tariff were given as at 31 March 2008, the exact numbers benefiting from a social tariff, below a supplier's best offer, cannot be estimated.
(3) Negative figures illustrate the average cost disadvantage of the social tariff over the best offer from the same supplier.

Copies of these reports can be found online at:

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what representations he has received on (a) the adequacy of notice given to energy consumers of energy price rises and (b) the length of time they are given to switch supplier after a price increase. [286255]

Mr. Kidney: The Department receives a number of representations on a range of consumer matters, including on communications by energy suppliers to customers.

Ofgem is responsible for setting the rules governing notifications. The rules include the timing in which suppliers must notify customers after a tariff change has been put in place, and the timing for customers to notify suppliers if they wish to terminate their supply contract and start the transfer process to another supplier.

Ofgem carried out a review into the price notification period earlier this year, and is expected to publish its findings soon.

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the performance of Ofgem in its regulation of British Gas tariff changes; and if he will make a statement. [287704]

Mr. Kidney [holding answer 20 July 2009]: Following its Energy Supply Probe, Ofgem has made a number of proposals for amending regulation governing: information to consumers, time periods relating to notifications of tariff changes, the structure of tariffs and overarching standards for suppliers. Ofgem is also seeking improvements in suppliers' management of direct debits. We support Ofgem's work to pursue improvements to regulation where necessary.

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 8 June 2009, Official Report, columns 719-20W, on energy: prices, if he will estimate the number of people in fuel poverty as a result of increases in energy prices arising from the implementation of commitments to reduce levels of carbon dioxide emissions. [288434]

Mr. Kidney: It is not possible to currently estimate the net change in fuel poverty as a result of our climate change policies, as this will depend on which dwellings receive measures and the households that live in them in 2020.

As our recent "Climate Change Transition Plan" makes clear, climate change policies will lead to significant and sustained savings on the domestic energy bills of those households who take up measures. As detailed in the analytical annex to this document, by 2020, funding of our climate change policies will lead domestic gas and electricity prices to rise. Households taking up climate change measures will be less affected by these rises as their consumption of gas and electricity will be reduced and in many cases, will see a reduction in their bill levels as a result.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what funding his Department is providing to finance the mandated social price support for household energy, as announced on page 12 of the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan. [288566]

Mr. Kidney: By the final year of the voluntary agreement in 2010-11, energy suppliers will be spending £150 million per year on social programmes. Subject to the parliamentary timetable, the new mandated social price support policy will increase the funding made available by energy suppliers above £150 million per year after March 2011. In
21 July 2009 : Column 1635W
announcing this policy, our aim is to give the vulnerable households receiving help from energy suppliers under the current voluntary arrangements the confidence that similar help will be available after the voluntary agreement comes to an end.

The Government will bring forward legislation at the earliest opportunity and will give more detail at around the time the legislation is introduced.

Environment Ministers: Meetings

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the outcomes were of the conference of Environment Ministers held in Greenland in July 2009; and what papers his Department circulated at the conference. [286625]

Joan Ruddock: The Greenland Dialogue meeting of Climate Change and Environment Ministers and senior negotiators produced a Chair's Summary. This highlighted, among other things, participants' commitment to success at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December, and the need for global warming to stay below 2 degrees. The Chair's Summary can be viewed on the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy website at:

The UK did not formally circulate any papers at the meeting but did distribute copies of the Road to Copenhagen document and I spoke about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's climate finance initiative.


Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on (a) the form in which and (b) the level to which industrialised countries should increase expenditure on forestry; what benefits he expects to accrue from expenditure on forestry; and what his policy is on the inclusion of forestry in carbon markets to prevent deforestation and degradation. [289003]

Joan Ruddock: The UK is working with other countries through the Working Group on Interim Finance for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) to build consensus on finance for forests in the run-up to the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. Discussions are still in progress but the UK considers that a mix of grant support and public-private finance instruments will be needed. The level of expenditure required to achieve the EU's target of halving the rate of deforestation by 2020, while taking account of the concerns of indigenous peoples and local communities and realising biodiversity and other benefits, is still under discussion. The UK believes, as set out in The Road to Copenhagen, that in the medium to long term, including forests in the carbon market is the best solution to generating the scale of funding needed. It will take time to develop robust monitoring control and governance arrangements for this.

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to which forestry activities the declaration on international climate negotiations at the UK-French summit in Evian on 6 July 2009 referred. [289012]

21 July 2009 : Column 1636W

Joan Ruddock: The forestry activities referred to in the UK-French declaration on the international climate negotiations relate to:

Next Section Index Home Page