Grants Shapps – Strong Foundations or Weak Understanding?

With the conservative’s conference now finished and the focussed rallying of political troops coming to a natural lull we now see further reflection of the speeches and recently published papers.

Grant Shapps always provides some interest though feel he often lacks solid reasoning and/or alternatives to areas he dislikes. He is undoubtedly advised on certain areas though in regard to Home Information Packs and Energy Performance Certificates he just seems to be taking a ‘party line’; stating what he hopes the nation wants to hear.

His lack of ‘real’ understanding towards quite basic concepts within the HIP and EPC regulations is surprising and concerning at the same time. A couple of his most recent faux pas in regard to this:

In his speech this week….

“And when it comes to selling your own home they’ve introduced that pointless red-tape. The Home Information Pack.
Ive said it before, Ill say it again…
HIPs are history under the next Conservative government.
And Gordon Brown could be the first to benefit – when his removal van pulls up outside Number 10!”

Gordon Brown does he own No. 10? No
Is Gordon Brown selling No.10? No
Is Gordon Brown marketing No.10 for sale? No
So, then Mr Shapps, why would he need a Home Information Pack?

Even with a most basic of understanding of the HIP regulations, which you would hope Mr Shapps had when he is threatening to scrap this established policy; Gordon Brown would not need to commision a HIP if he was to lose the election and have to leave Downing Street.

He may need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of some description, though Grant Shapps clearly states that Energy Performance Certificates “will become an established part of the property market“.

The above quote and following extracts were taken from a recently published green paper, entitled ‘Strong Foundations’.

Section 7 on page 35 of the green paper details Energy efficient housing which is an important issue, further highlighted by OfGem’s report today.

Mr Shapps paper highights the need for Energy Efficient Housing…

The most urgent challenge in reducing carbon emissions from housing is to improve dramatically the energyefficiency of existing housing stock. Carbon dioxide emissions from the housing sector have risen by more than five per cent since 1997, and currently account for 27 per cent of the UK’s carbon footprint.84 When one considers that around 80 per cent of the existing housing stock of 25 million homes will still be in use by 2050,85 the need to give consumers incentives to make their homes more energy efficient is clear.

Then the green paper paper sets out…

One signal that will create just such a behavioural shift is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). EPCs are
a means of providing prospective householders with information about the current and potential energy efficiency of their homes, the measures they can take to realise that potential, and where to go for further advice on these measures, including for financial assistance. Ultimately, as they become an established part of the property market, it is expected that they will have a significant impact on buying and renting decisions, creating an incentive for property owners and landlords to make energy efficient improvements to attract buyers or tenants.

Sounds great, perfectly reasonable, sound and logical so far but this is unfortunately where it appears to end.

Energy Performance Certificates are currently part of Home Information Packs (HIPs). We do not believe that they should get in the way of being able to market a property and so Energy Performance Certificates should be required only by the end of the sale process, rather than being a legal requirement as the house is placed on the market.

How will Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) be significant as the paper recognises,  if they are not required until the end of the buying and selling process?

How can they be used to attract buyers or tenants if they are not in place to attract them?

Grant Shapps anti-HIP stance re-presents itself….

We will therefore scrap the discredited HIPs, liberating EPCs to genuinely help people improve the environmental standing of their property.

We also want to introduce greater competition in the market for the provision of EPCs to help drive down their cost. In addition, we will look at the availability of EPC data in order to ensure that consumers can be offered relevant information that will enable informed decisions to be made about improving the environmental standing of their own home.

Will he really scrap HIPs, has he really considered the consequences or alternatives? What is he proposing in its place, a void?

If you are considering domestic energy assessor DEA training this is surely not good news; those who are currently practising must question what fee Grant Shapps would like DEAs to receive per EPC.

Is Grant Shapps planning to help drive costs down; for eg estate agency fees, surveyors fees or solicitors costs as well?

It does look as the Conservatives will win the next election; however these kind of statements do put into question whether we will receive coherent housing strategy and implementation or can we expect a series of housing ministers coming and going as we have seen with Labour.

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