HC Deb 04 February 1981 vol 998 cc286-7
18. Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the level of grant take-up under the Government's homes insulation scheme.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

The take-up of allocations varies from district to district, but we expect a much higher level of take-up nationally in 1980–81 than in the first two years of the scheme, when only 44 per cent. and 56 per cent. of the large sums allocated for the homes insulation scheme were spent.

Mr. Carlisle

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but will he tell us what proportion of the insulation grants will go to the elderly and disabled? Is he satisfied with the take-up by these groups of people? If not, what will he do to improve the take-up?

Mr. Finsberg

My hon. Friend will know that the special scheme for the elderly was recently introduced only, and it is too early to give the House any proper detail. All I can say is that, from the evidence that we have from all over the country, the majority of local authorities still have funds available for this special category.

Mr. Alton

Will the Minister accept that a great deal of money is being wasted by heat being pumped into people's homes and going out through the roof because of inadequate insulation? Will he also agree that there is a need to use many of our unemployed building workers by embarking on a scheme that would be. not only environmentally desirable but also economically advantageous?

Mr. Finsberg

I have to remind the House that a massive amount of progress has been made with regard to uninsulated roofs since the schemes were first introduced and supported on each side of the House. If the hon. Gentleman is talking about something like topping up, I can only say that the cost-effective benefit of insulation comes in the first amount and not in topping up.

Mr. Watson

Will my hon. Friend ensure that adequate publicity is given to the availability of insulation grants, particularly bearing in mind that the funds available for those grants next year will be a full 30 per cent. greater in real terms than is the case at present?

Mr. Finsberg

I shall do my best to make everybody aware of the benefit that people will get to their own pockets from insulation, apart from any grants which may help them.