Home Information Packs (HIPs) are suspended and pickled

Eric Pickles has finally granted Mr Shapps’s long held desire to suspend HIPs this morning, though it remains unclear on what basis. Grant Shapps who has increasing appeared to be on personal crusade to scrap HIPs has seemingly suceeded and issued a statement shortly afterwards.

The statement read,

“Mr Pickles today laid an Order suspending HIPs with immediate effect, pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition. The Secretary of State has taken this swift action in order to avoid uncertainty and prevent a slump in an already fragile housing market. Today’s announcement sends a clear message of encouragement to people thinking of selling their home that they can put it on the market with less cost and hassle.”

The statement (which can be read in full here) fails to clarify the justification of such an immediate action and the basis the decision was made upon. Furthermore, many would argue that it goes against an official statement we were given direct from Grant Shapps office, where he stated a consultation would be actioned.

“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.”

Colin Smithson-Connelly chairman of IPPA today stated,

“Grant Shapps was advised in opposition of the jobs losses expected which will be anything up to 10000 and over from HIPs related Industries and while that is not the reason to protect something if it is definately causing problems in the market.

However, our research is showing that this isn’t the case and many agents either don’t want to see HIPs abolished or are neutral and would rather not see 1000’s of people lose their jobs over a political decision. Grant Shapps was also advised that the abolishment of the HIPs regulations had to be handled carefully to not destabilise the fragile housing market.”

It is quite understandable that those in the industry consider that scant regard has been given to their businesses and their clients and have been left feeling bewildered and perplexed. It is unclear of the full extent of the redundancies that will follow; and when or if the Conservative / Liberal Democrat government will propose a HIP alternative or actually return us to the days of increased levels of delayed and aborted transactions.

Eric Pickles expressed the need to suspend HIPs during an interview on the Politics show today. Eric Pickles detailed how they became concerned about rumours which were circulating in the industry which he claimed were de-stabilising the market and also felt that suspension would halt the possibility of a slump in the market.

We understand that Eric Pickles has used the following section of the regulations as his basis to suspend HIPs, (the full regulations can be read here.)

Section 162: Suspension of duties under sections 155 to 159

353.     This section allows the Secretary of State by order to suspend any duty imposed by sections 155, 156, 158 and 159. Such a suspension may be time limited or indefinite and in either case can be revived. This power will only be used in exceptional circumstances.

We would certainly question whether the circumstances he has described so far are ‘exceptional’ and it is likely that this definition would need to be decided by the courts of the land.

It is ironic that anti-HIP statements that were seemingly emanating from the ‘usual’ anti HIP camps; which it is believed are being referred to as the de-stabilising factor are being used as ‘supporting evidence’ to suspend Home Information Packs (HIPS) by the Conservatives.

We specifically brought the issue to light and to the attention of the Conservatives in article the article ‘Conservative Home Information Pack policy to stall property market?’. This was also referred to in a recent Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report, (OFT report Home buying and selling – A market study) published in February this year which we would have hoped those trumpeting the suspension of HIPs may of taken the time to read. It concludes,

it could be argued that HIPs in their current form have a positive impact’ and ‘We do not, therefore, recommend any intervention on this issue at the present time.’

So the OFT, no less, would seemingly not support suspension via this clause in the Act.

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During the interview with Eric Pickles, unfortunately no discussion or disclosure took place on what evidence formed the basis to take such drastic action which will directly affected thousands of jobs. One would hope that it was not purely a ‘political whim’ of Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles, supported by the popular TV presenter Kirsty Allsopp who we are more recently accustomed to seeing glassblowing or making decorative cushion covers, than offering advice on housing reform.

It has not been widely reported or acknowledged by many but the Energy Performance Certificate’s (which had to be retained as per the EU legislation) importance has been downgraded during the home information pack suspension and was a concern we detailed in ‘Grant Shapps to change Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) delivery?

The EPC now only needs to have been commissioned before marketing can commence and will now be valid for 10 years for sales purposes. This was feared by many interested in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

It seems as if it is the end of the HIP era though wonder if the Home Information Pack may return to haunt Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles (who was hastily put forward to deal with the issue) in the future when they attempt some constructive housing reform.

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9 Responses to “Home Information Packs (HIPs) are suspended and pickled”

  1. Hi,

    Anti-HIP sentiment does appear to be dominating housing forums as well as the mainstream media!

  2. voice of truth Says:

    I know this won’t be published. but I would just like to say, goodbye and good riddance to you and your corrupt, money grabbing, wasteful and pointless industry. I have not laughed so hard since Kevin Keegan fell off his bike in Superstars.

  3. ljc01char Says:

    To voice of truth, so glad you find the whole thing funny just for a second in your sad little world think of the families that this has affected and the business, oh well there goes VAT Corporation Tax receipts,and looks like the deprive child payament will come in handy, I only hope you are one of the many who voted the mad mans in and forgot about the last time they were in and the state of the country. Now council housing, no industry what a legacy!!!!!

  4. Terry Bradley Says:

    Oh well they have gone but the smile will go when VAT is up to 20% which adds to Est Agent fees etc. Then we have capital gains tax predicted to go to 40% from 18%. House prices will drop drastically and the looming hike in interest rates which China is reportedly planning to raise due to high inflation – this will boomerang to the West and bang goes the housing market when % rates have to compete here in the UK. Sad period it will be.

  5. To be fair, many got into the HIP industry in the hope of making a quick buck (most failed) it was a political move to have it in the first place, and lets be honest without the HCR it was pretty worthless, but the HCR could never happen because there were not enough people to carry it out (lots of Burger flippers paid a fortune to be trained).

    It was a stated Conservative policy to get rid, and if most are honest the public will not miss them one bit.

    My advice for the poor sods caught up in this is, don’t get a job that depends on controversial legislation there is always a chance that the next government will scrap it.

    Sorry about your loss, but you will have to move on from this

  6. The people who made money, a lot of money, out of this whole HIPS scheme were the myriad consultants, training providers, software developers and middlemen who fleeced both the government and the assessors out of millions. Their investments were repaid in full with interest, while the losers are left with worthless “qualifications” they paid through the nose to acquire, and a hole in the public finances that we certainly didn’t need in the current economic climate.

    The consultants in particular, ruthlessly exploited the opportunity to cash in on the HIPS gravy train, on one hand, being paid by the taxpayer to help draft the legislation and operational procedures. While on the other, the companies they worked for, owned, or had alliances with, enjoyed hugely advantageous prior knowledge of the proposed system, giving them an unassailable position in the market once the scheme was launched.

    The prices charged for “training”, accreditation, administration, and processing were borderline obscene, and the schemes they developed were tailored to deny competitors the opportunity to drive down these costs.

    On several occasions I attempted to expose what was really going on through freedom of information requests to DCLG, but they refused to release the details of the internal meetings they had with these “consultants”. The last response I received was in September 2007, and it stated:

    “Further to my letter of 29 August, we need to extend our response time limit by a further 20 working days to give us time to assess whether the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.
    The specific qualified exemptions we are considering in relation to your request are under Section 35: Formulation and Development of Government Policy and Section 36: Prejudice to the Effective Conduct of Public Affairs.
    Therefore, we plan to let you have a response by 26 October.”

    I did not receive any response on 26 October.

    Ruth Kelly & Yvette Cooper worked hand in hand with these companies, perhaps one day the truth will come out.

  7. Why would people feel sorry for the HIP people who will be out of a job. No different to any other industry, steel, cars etc so hope they don’t get preferential treatment. No-one stepped in to claim compensation for us when my husband lost his job (through no fault of his own). Lets hope the government don’t get brow-beaten by these people and stick to their guns.

  8. As a society, we should feel sorry for ALL who lose their jobs as a result of government policy, and this includes HIP providers just as much as it does manufacturing workers.

    This isn’t just bleeding heart stuff – the economy depends on people being in work, as with less people working, the less tax is paid. Not just income tax either, but the VAT take falls since the jobless cannot afford to spend on anything but essentials (which are rated at a lower, or sometimes zero, VAT rate).

    The last time this lot were in power we had massive job losses, possibly because they didn’t bother to think through the results of their buying decisions – regularly choosing American suppliers instead of the local option. Unemployment is now reported to be over 2.5 million, for the first time since 1994, but back then, they did it all by themselves – there was no world economic crisis for them to blame it on.

    This may just be the first of many massive job losses caused by lack of thinking in Whitehall. I worry how high the jobless total will rise under the Tories.

  9. […] studies, our business has certainly seen an increase of properties coming to market since the removal of HIPs in May of this year. However, the number of sellers have increased but so has the number of sellers […]

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