Sellers' packs: MPs denounce decision to delay HIPs

The Government has been accused by a committee of MPs of "losing its nerve" when deciding to stagger the introduction of home Information packs (HIPs).

The report from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee said the decision in the summer to phase in HIPs had been wrong and created confusion in the housing market.

The MPs said they were unconvinced by the Government's assertion that the phase-in had been due to unspecified market reasons and a shortage of qualified home energy assessors.

HIPs had originally been scheduled for introduction last June, for all properties in England and Wales. But following intensive lobbying by housing industry groups, the launch was delayed to 1 August and then only for properties with four or more bedrooms. The scheme was rolled out to three-bedroom houses in September and to all properties in December. According to the MPs' report, though, the uncertainty created by the piecemeal introduction intensified the problem of the shortage of energy assessors. People, it was claimed, were reluctant to pay out thousands of pounds to train "for jobs the Government would not guarantee would exist".

Housing minister Yvette Cooper (pictured), who faced criticism over the project last summer, was branded as "repeatedly unclear" about the market reasons for the delays in launching the packs.

What's more, an earlier decision to drop the requirement on sellers to include a home condition report a type of survey in their HIP had "substantially" reduced the earning potential of energy assessors, again dissuading people from training for the job.

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