HIPs have cost 11m so far

Last week, the government revealed that preparation for the launch of Home Information Packs has already cost over 11m in administration, legal and consultation fees.

Between April 2004 and the end of January 2007, the Department of Communities and Local Government pour-ed 11.86m into the HIP project, which is well within the budget of 16m set aside for the preparations.

Yvette Cooper, housing minister, says: “HIPs are designed to cut waste from the home buying process, and also provide important energy information to cut carbon emissions.

“The money has been spent on developing and testing Home Condition Reports, putting in place a quality assurance framework to protect consumers and guarantee standards, developing systems and explaining the changes.”

Matthew Wyles, group development director at Portman, says: “The money would have been better spent on clean water projects in Africa.”

“Since the government conceded that HCRs will no longer be a mandatory part of HIPs, the project has been hopelessly holed below the waterline.

“It’s only a matter of time before HIPs shuffle off into history to join many other unsuccessful government initiatives.”

But Paul Broadhead, deputy director-general at the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, believes this to be money well spent.

He says: “Obviously there are huge costs involved in any reform of this size and there is still more to be done in terms of publicising the benefits of HIPs to consumers.

“But taken in the context of the 350m per year wasted by consumers in the buying and selling process, a budget of 16m for the introduction of HIPs is a good investment.”