SIPPs, HIPs and Westminster’s folly

What can be said about Home Information Packs that hasn\'t been said already? Acres of news-print have been devoted to this most vexed of subjects.

And if you mention HIPs in some quarters, you’ll be greeted with rolling eyes and the gnashing of teeth – and that’s just Westminster.

Goodness knows what the public must make of this mess. After all, the initiative was supposed to help them by making home buying easier and more secure.

HIPs have all the hallmarks of a Hollywood flop of massive proportions – 10 years in the making and millions of pounds wasted. They are the mortgage equivalent of Waterworld.

The harsh reality is that HIPs haven’t even launched yet and in their current guise may never see the light of day. And if they do come to pass in their existing state, they’ll be a missed opportunity.

The blame for all this can be laid squarely at the government’s feet.

Post-HIPs, the industry will think twice about its responses to future Whitehall initiatives. After all, this isn’t the first time it has pulled the rug from under the housing market. Last year, I wrote about the millions of pounds written off following the government’s last-minute U-turn on self-invested personal pensions. That was bad enough, but HIPs are worse. The industry deserves more certainty.

I’d also expect that any conversation with Whitehall about compensation is likely to be a short one and that doesn’t help either.

Consider the fallout for those who have re-trained as home inspectors and energy inspectors. Homes, reputations, careers and businesses Simon biddle are on the line.

There are those who would argue, mainly from the perspective of self-interest, that HIPs were flawed from the outset. In my opinion, this is not the case. But we need to get them launched, in place and working with no more procras-tination. A lot is riding on them.

Unfortunately, most of it is at the expense of private industry rather than Westminster. Therein lies the problem.