How to kill an entrepreneur

In 1999 a father and son were so frustrated with the delays from local councils in providing local searches to enable them to buy a house they went to the council and searched the records to produce their own search. Realising there was a business potential there the father and son contact a couple of solicitor friends and with their help started a personal search company.

With hard work and a good service the company rapidly grew until they were asked continually to provide searches all over the country. They now have over thirty offices in England and Wales. During this time the Tory party were trying to develop a new method of providing the documents required in conveyancing at an early stage in the transaction to speed things up and limit the number of failed transactions. I wonder what they would have called it?

Suffice to say like most government ideas before they could finalise it the voters chucked them out and ushered in another bunch of chancers. They also thought the early production of information would be a good idea and if it included a survey it would be a winner. It took them over ten years to get it together but in 2007 they rolled out the Home Information Pack.

Pali LtdBy this time our father and son had been joined by another son and their lovely daughter. The company was Pali. Suddenly all the hard work in getting solicitors to use their services was out of the window. The new clients were going to be HIP providers, estate agents and Home inspectors who were going to provide the surveys. The team at Pali were dismayed but threw themselves into the task of developing a HIP company whilst still providing a service to their existing clients. Hipview was born and forty-five thousand pounds was invested in training five home inspectors to cover the promised work.

One of the first customer was Yvette Cooper, the then Housing Minister responsible for introducing HIP’s. This was provided by Pali. If only they had cocked it up she may have had second thoughts. Never mind. Shortly after spending all that money on HI training the Government buckled under pressure from RICS and other vested interests and made the home inspection optional. Result? Five thousand unemployed and skint Home inspectors.

To mitigate this disaster, which was a vehicle for the EU required Energy Performance Certificate, a new and less onerous qualification was introduced Domestic Energy Assessor. The promises of riches seduced around seventeen thousand poor souls to spend their hard earned cash, redundancy money and in many cases forces demob funds on this wonderful new career. Unfortunately the market could sustain around four thousand five hundred DEA’s so the riches were fools gold. If you noticed the heading of this piece you will see where this is going.

Up to now there are probably twenty thousand entrepreneur involved in the Hip industry. Most one and two man bands. This does not count the in-house employees of the major chains of estate agents mortgage and conveyancing factories and HIP companies. Many found it was not as easy as they thought and not as profitable as they hoped. The property crash saw the demise of many of them leaving public and business without a product or payment for services rendered.

The councils were also feeling the chill wind of competition for the local searches so they had two choices. Up their game or make it more difficult for the competition. No brainer they, through the office of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) added a few extra questions to the search and then restricted access to the search companies, brilliant. Under pressure the CLG realised that they could be seen to be restricting competition so they told the councils they should give access but they could charge for it. Another master stroke so good bye all you search companies.

Hang on these guys are entrepreneurs and don’t give up so easily so the search industry developed an insurance policy which covered absolutely every one interested in the transaction for missing or incorrect information. Wow, what are the councils and the CLG to do now? In another stroke of brilliance the Hip Regs were changed to make insurance illegal. These boys are good. But our entrepreneurs are made of stern stuff.

We are all hanging in by our toe nails. Making a living, just. Then when they thought it was safe to go back in the water we have an election. The Tory’s and Grant Shapps think these bounders have pinched our idea as soon as we get into power we will abolish the Hip. Na Na Nana Na. We will take a hundred day consultation to give these guys chance to sort themselves out then the Hips are toast. Suddenly on Thursday 20/05/2010 they pull the plug. Die you pesky entrepreneurs.

Pali Ltd are still there providing a service to their original customers and welcome new clients. More information can be found by visiting their website.

Written by Nick D Small

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6 Responses to “How to kill an entrepreneur”

  1. Interesting article but please don’t slam the local councils, we are like you are just doing our job – we have no say in what comes down from central government – believe me all the legislation/regulation changes caused us as much grief as you’re feeling at the moment but we ended up working with one hand tied behind our backs because we can’t run our ‘business’ like an entreupeneur. At least you’re in charge of your own business and make decisions on what to do or not do.

    We are still here providing our service to our clients also – please check any of the local authority websites to see their prices and turnaround times – 99% of the time these are cheaper and faster than the independent companies. Just take the time to shop around.

  2. Nick

    An excellent article.

    Not much to add to it.

    Anyway I must dash as I am taking about 2000 buiseness cards and brochures to the recycling tip.

  3. Annoyed? You should be. I agree the staff at land charges are usually fine but it is not true to say councils have these things imposed on them. Since the day we started in business coucil officers have restricted our access and delayed us unfairly. It is also not true to say council searches are cheaper. The personal search industry has been responsible for councils reducing their prices but most are still dearer. And they are not very reliable. We just received an official search today on a new build house which has no planning applications on it, Doh.

  4. John Smith Says:

    I am rather surprised to read such a diatribe from I presume an employee of such a “professional” company. But I sincerely hope your spleen feels better now that it’s been vented.

    In your ‘article’ You don’t mention how many forces demob funds were wasted on this new career. Maybe you can let me know where you found these figures from.

    Moving away from the article,
    Many personal search companies would like Council’s to provide all its information for free because they “are paid to collect and hold this information on behalf of the public by the local rate payers. It is not their information they are simply custodians of the information required to collate a local search” If this is so, then why, as a tax payer, having paid the Council for the collection and holding of the information on my behalf already, should I have to pay your company for this information. I would in effect be paying twice; once in Council Tax fees and again with your search fee. How is this good for the consumer?

    On the Pali website it states that not all authorities have subscribed to NLIS but they have with Pali, I think you’ll find most LA’s will take search requests from everyone, including members of the public, which can in effect cut out the middle man and save you money.

    “with the insurance attached to the personal searches they have less risk than those from local authorities which do not have insurance cover” – come on Nicky, everyone knows local authorities have insurance cover.

    Oh and by the way, the reality of a search is that it is only as good as the day the search was done. The three month “ruling” was settled upon up by conveyancers.


  5. Hi John – I understand that psc’s would like all the information for free because as you say it is initially collected and held by the local council but paid for by the local tax payers (employees wages). I think the issue is that if it is free to collect then it should be passed on free as well but don’t think that will happen somehow. As a local council tax payer wouldn’t you feel aggrieved if you knew something had been given away free to a company but that they charge an extortionate amount to give themselves a profit which neither benefits the local council tax payer or the local economy at all. Imagine Tesco giving away ‘free’ CD’s and then someone collecting them all up and selling them on e-bay. Another thought is that if its all for free then all the solicitors may as well come direct to the Council and cut out the middle man.

  6. I’m not sure I would use the word entrepreneur to describe a person who sees that consumers are being forced to buy a product they don’t need and goes on a simple training course and joins an overnight industry.

    Anyway, the brilliant minds of these entrepreneurs can now be turned to revenue makings businesses for UK PLC and we can look forward to their contribution in securing the Country’s recovery.

    I’m glad entrepreneurial people are no longer distracted by the pointless shifting of money internally when they could be doing something useful.

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