Conservatives to consult on Home Information Packs (HIPs)

Grant Shapps MP office contacted us after a recent article ‘Conservative Home Information Pack policy to stall property market?’ where we posed a few questions. Grant Shapps office offered to provide answers to these questions, which we were pleased to accept.

The initial questions:

Q1. Are you going to replace Home Information Packs with anything else?
Q2. If so, what?
Q3. What are the planned timescales to the answer in Q2?
Q4. How will you manage the scrapping process, timescales and actions?

We went on to ask a few more questions which we hoped could also be addressed.

Q5 Is there any scenario where the Conservatives would not scrap HIPs or change to a degree and re-brand them? For e.g. If Mr Grant Shapps was to move office, if the Conservatives win the next election. If the consultation recommends change rather than abolishing them.

Q6 What makes Grant Shapps and the conservatives so against sellers providing upfront information about their property, which is the biggest purchase in most people’s lives. This happens with most products and services in our lives, why do you not want it with homes?

Q7. By saying you will scrap HIPs in 100 days, what consequences do you envisage this will have on the property market and how will you deal with this.

Q8 Once Home Information Packs are gone after 100 days, are we really going to go back to how things were prior to HIPs?

Q9. Is there any advice you can offer to small businesses who have invested much time, effort and money into servicing the Government introduced Home Information Pack legislation?

The response we received from Grant Shapps MP office was as follows:

We do not plan to replace HIPs with anything else. If we win the next election, we will scrap HIPs as soon as possible after a consultation period – we expect to be around 100 days. We are very keen to see industry/market driven solutions to any problems in the home-buying process but do not believe that the Government should impose more red tape and expensive bureaucracy on consumers, particularly during the longest and deepest recession on record. Though the compulsory element of HIPs will be removed they will remain voluntary and it is up to the industry to create a product that consumers value and want.

Grant fully appreciates how difficult this is for inspectors and shares their anger about the money they and others have spent on training. We believe that this Government has led you up a garden path by introducing a needlessly bureaucratic, expensive and largely pointless piece of legislation and we have every sympathy for someone in your position. However, it does seem to me that the people to blame are the ones currently in power. We have been consistent in our intentions and have warned the market place that HIPs didn’t enjoy our support throughout. We have set out separate policies on our support for EPCs and our expectation that they will become more widespread, an important tool in combating climate change, which will help those who are trained as DEAs.

It would be true to say that we had hoped for a more detailed response after the Conservative party spokesperson contacted us. However, we were pleased to be contacted by Mr Shapps MP office and the pleasant and easy communication that followed.

It is reported that Grant Shapps MP has embraced and has a real interest in social media and the internet. Grant regularly updates his twitter and if interested you can follow him at @grantshapps here.

We did re-iterated a couple of the questions and the spokesperson confirmed that they did not want to comment on these at this time.

The statement we received and later communication does confirm the consultation, which has been rumoured in various places and in itself raises further questions.

Who will be involved in the consultation?

How long do you envisage this lasting?

What will you be actually consulting on if you have already decided you will scrap HIPs?

The Conservative party spokesperson did confirm that they are working through the detail of the consultation at present. The news that a ‘consultation’ is now on the agenda will be of great interest to both anti and pro-HIP parties and whether it will be carried out with the true meaning of a ‘consultation’ at the forefront of the process.

The energy assessor and HIP industry certainly has limited confidence in recent ‘consultation’  processes carried out by the present government. This has been recently demonstrated with the new Housing Energy Advisor role where Domestic Energy Assessors who were more than adequately trained were overlooked to create a new role. The new role seems as if it will allow utilities to offer ‘free’ energy efficiency advice to home owners. An indication of how this will be made ‘free’ can easily established via current job opportunities which are all nearly 100% commission. So is the role, energy efficiency advice or sales?

It seems that the Conservative stance has either softened towards Home Information Packs; or that they are now looking into the legal ramifications and possible issues that lie with their policy ‘wishes’ to find it may not be as straight forward as hoped. As is often the case; the devil is in the detail. This is now concerning Anti HIP groups and  giving hope once again to those in support of upfront information being provided by the home seller.

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