Home packs delayed until AugustBut Which? warns two months is not enough

23 May 2007

Which? today warned a two month delay in the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs) is not enough and the government may have to go back to the drawing board.

The start date for the controversial packs has been put back to August 1 from June 1, it was announced yesterday.

And initially HIPs, including energy performance certificates, will only be required for four bedroom properties and larger.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Ruth Kelly said she was 'phasing in' the new arrangements two months behind schedule as a 'pragmatic way forward' which would give 'clarity to everyone' about the way ahead.

'Half-baked'

But Jenny Driscoll, campaigner at Which?, says: 'The government has given home movers a two-month reprieve. However, it's clear that this isn't a genuine desire to improve the HIP but rather an attempt to take the heat off the government!

'We withdrew support for HIPs last year when government caved in to industry pressure and cobbled together a ‘half- baked HIP’. A two-month stay of execution will not deliver the magic formula to transform this half HIP into the ‘full Monty’.

'The original intention was to radically improve home buying and selling in the UK and stop one in four sales falling through. This can only be done with a lengthy delay – certainly not a couple of months - and may even mean going back to the drawing board.'

Ms Kelly also disclosed that only about 520 assessors would have been fully accredited to do the job by June 1, when at least 2,000 were needed.

She said: 'We will extend to smaller properties as rapidly as possible - as sufficient energy assessors become ready to work.'

Legal challenge

The announcement came after a legal challenge to HIPs from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and fierce Tory opposition.

Ms Kelly said the RICs challenge focused on the energy performance certificates (EPCs), rather than the HIPs themselves.

On Wednesday last week, the judge issued an interim order which would have effectively prevented the introduction of EPCs on June 1, while the case was being considered.

After talks with RICs, the two sides had reached 'a pragmatic way forward that gives certainty and allows us to get on with implementation'.

The Government would withdraw the regulations introducing HIPs next month and bring in revised arrangements.

Ms Kelly said the Government remained committed to HIPs, and as a transitional measure, until the end of the year, people would be allowed to market their properties as soon as they had commissioned a pack.

EPCs could be up to 12 months old when the property was put up for sale - extending the current three-month limit.