Prior to the scheduled opposition debate tomorrow in Parliament, the Government has announced it will not have enough home inspectors in place to successfully implement mandatory Home Information Packs (HIPs) by next June. There is as yet no future date for implementation.

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said: ‘We have concluded that there would be significant risks and potential disadvantages to consumers from a mandatory ‘big bang’ introduction of full Home Condition Reports on 1 June 2007.

‘In particular: Further testing is needed to ensure that Home Condition Reports deliver the assumed benefits for consumers and that the operating systems that support them work smoothly. Design work on the dry run has made it clear that this cannot be completed in time for the results to be taken into account in by 1 June.’

Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, Michael Gove, countered saying that the Blair administration was slowly discovering that the HIPs project amounted to ‘expensive and deficient red tape’ left over from the shambolic John Prescott regime, and had also realised that it would ‘simply not deliver the improvements that the housing market needs’.

He added: ‘The Government claims that the Packs are necessary to implement an EU Directive to provide Energy Condition Reports when a home is sold. Yet in Northern Ireland, the Directive is being implemented without the introduction of Home Information Packs.’

Charles Smailes, President at the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), commented: ‘The Government has admitted it is unlikely to have the necessary number of home inspectors in place by 1 June 2007 to cope with home condition report demands. This has been a major concern of the NAEA and we are thankful the Minister has finally listened.

‘The announcement today is something of a U-turn by the Government on legislation it has been working on for over five years. It calls into question the effectiveness of a HIP when the documentation included is now largely available online. The legislation would seem unnecessary and does not cover the important reasons why home sales and purchase transactions fall through.’

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