Minister brands Labour man 'Eeyore'

A Labour front-bencher is acting similar to gloomy donkey Eeyore by "scaremongering" about cuts to households struggling with their bills, an energy minister said today.

Shadow energy minister Jonathan Reynolds warned that less would be done to help insulate homes in or at risk of fuel poverty following reductions to the Energy Company Obligation (Eco).

He told MPs no more than 25,000 solid wall insulation jobs would take place each year compared to 80,000 jobs in recent years.

But Energy Minister Greg Barker insisted the Opposition was concentrating on the minimum number of jobs that could be carried out rather than taking into consideration other programmes to help insulate homes.

The Eco project ensures energy companies help improve the energy efficiency of homes but the Government announced changes in the Autumn Statement as it seeks to limit price rises in energy bills.

Speaking during energy questions, Mr Barker told Mr Reynolds: "I'm afraid you are scaremongering slightly about the solid wall industry.

"The fact of the matter is the figures you referred to are the de minimis, they are not the maximum, it is the de minimis.

"There are other ways in which we will be installing solid wall, not least working with our cash back. I'm surprised you haven't mentioned the cash back, where we're now offering up to £4,000 for solid wall insulation under the roll out of the Green Deal.

"This has been very warmly welcomed by the industry including the National Insulation Association.

"So perhaps you could join us in supporting the supply chain in talking up this market rather than acting as a little bit of an Eeyore."

Mr Reynolds had told the minister: "Over half the people in this country in fuel poverty live in solid wall properties. A significant number of those are people living off-grid in rural communities.

"Again the changes announced to Eco in the Autumn Statement mean that no more than 25,000 solid wall jobs will now be done a year when a few years ago it was 80,000 jobs a year being done.

"So can I ask you if you really do intend to tackle fuel poverty in off-grid areas, how can you do that without an adequate solid wall insulation industry?"

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