The House of Lords debate took place last night. For the government, Baroness Andrews sounded distinctly uncomfortable – as one might, defending the indefensible. She trotted out much of the same information we have heard so many times before but also confirmed the subsidies that will be paid to participants in the ‘Dry Run’. She also stated that trainee Home Inspectors will be not paid compensation.
There is no doubt that the government is heading for a fall with the ‘Dry Run’ as it simply will not test the pack under the circumstances that would prevail in a mandatory environment.
SPLINTA received an honourable ‘mention in dispatches’.
The following is the text of a press release we have issued this morning. Please circulate to your media contacts.
HIP DRY ‘A WASTE OF TAXPAYERS’ MONEY’.
In a House of Lords debate on 11th October, the government confirmed that £4 million of tax payer’s money is to be spent subsidising a ‘dry run’ of the discredited Home Information Pack (HIP) prior to its introduction in June 2007.
Government spokeswoman, Baroness Andrews stated: “Money will be used for communication and advertising, and we will be offering incentives in the form of a limited number of free packs as well as packs in which the mandatory element will be provided to the seller free of charge, leaving them free to pay for the HCR, and packs provided on a no-sale, no-fee basis.”
This subsidy calls into question the objectivity and validity of the dry run.
Nick Salmon FNAEA, head of the anti-pack campaign group, SPLINTA (Sellers Pack Law is not the Answer) said: “We question why tax payer money is being spent to subsidise private sale transactions. This subsidised voluntary trial of the HIP cannot accurately reflect the circumstances that would exist when the pack is made mandatory and giving away free packs will skew the trial results. It is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The government is about to repeat the error it made in a similar trial in Bristol five years ago. Despite assurances that the dry run results will be independently assessed we are very concerned that a commercial organisation representing the firms that stand to make money from the packs is running this trial. We would advise estate agents and sellers to steer well clear of it.”
SPLINTA has proposed modification to the HIP that would remove the need for the dry run and make the scheme practical and cost-effective for the industry and consumers. The Energy Efficiency Report (required under an E.U. Directive) would be made a voluntary document during the marketing of a property and only become mandatory at exchange of contracts. Agents and private sellers commissioning a HIP would receive a certificate from the pack provider stating that the order had been placed. In this way there would be no delay in commencing marketing (under the current regulations there could be a wait of up to 14 days while the pack is prepared) and sellers would not be forced to incur the cost of the Energy Report before a buyer had been found.
Nick Salmon said: “We commend these changes to the government as they will allow the free market to continue to operate, reduce bureaucracy, and cause the least inconvenience and cost to consumers.”