'Green jobs to offset budget cuts'
A plan to create almost 250,000 jobs in green industries will offset the economic "drag anchor" of budget cuts, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said.
The "green deal" will lead to thousands of workers modernising some 26 million homes to make them more energy efficient as part of the coalition's ambition to be the "greenest Government ever".
Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Liverpool, he urged members to back the coalition agreement commitment to new nuclear power even though it went against the party's policy, telling them: "A deal is a deal."
The Government expects the energy efficiency sector to employ 246,000 people in installation and supply chain roles by 2030.
Setting out the plan, Mr Huhne said: "Since there is no money left, my department is pioneering new ways of turning this Government into the greenest ever.
"Our homes are responsible for a quarter of the UK's carbon emissions, because they leak heat like a sieve. We use more energy to heat our homes than Sweden, where it's seven degrees colder in January. We might as well be standing outside burning £50 notes.
"By stopping this waste, we can make big savings on bills, and use them to pay businesses for the cost of insulation. This is the green deal."
Under the policy, companies will pay upfront to insulate homes, with householders paying back from the energy savings that will result.
"Under the green deal consumers will save energy and save money. But the green deal could also create a whole new industry that will help offset the drag anchor of the budget squeeze.
"Not just the 26,000 people working in insulation now, but up to 250,000 jobs in every part of the country, working on 26 million homes. And going into commercial premises too, so that small businesses also save money."