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Time to put HIPs out of their misery

In my day job as a communication and management consultant, I’m often asked to evaluate the effectiveness of corporate communications and then deliver or refine internal and external strategies. I find that to support my recommendations, it helps to show clients examples of best and worst practice.

So bless you, Home Information Packs, you’re going to make me a fortune. One has to wonder which egomaniac thought this government was capable of improving the housing transaction process. Who was the driver back in the day? Ah yes, John Prescott.

We all know Big John’s literal and apocryphal reputation for cock-ups, but even he, had he remained, would have been hard-pressed to top this.

You can imagine how the conversation might have gone with his former mistress, Tracy Temple.

“Well Tracy, it’s like this luv. What we need is an ‘ouse market destabilisation programme with inbuilt linkability to green issues for emergency get-outs if it starts to look a bit rocky. We’ll couple it wi’ a unique self-funded employment opportunity, which we can also pull back should the need arise. And cos it could be summat that staggers along and might need replacing, we’ll call it HIPs.” What a farce. In an emergency announcement in the House of Commons, communities secretary Ruth Kelly confirmed there weren’t enough energy assessors. Really?

I can recall regular government assurances that we were well on course for the numbers needed.

So it’s only houses with four bedrooms or more that will need HIPs. But hardly anyone in the industry thinks we need them, the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee confirms they have faced more opposition than any other government proposal it has reviewed and questions whether they’re fit for purpose.

So now Labour is going to wait until August 1 to deliver this flawed legislation, presumably because we’ll all be on holiday and less likely to notice. If HIPs were a dog, you’d have it put down, wouldn’t you?

If this is the best Gordon Brown can do to put housing issues at the centre of his premiership, heaven help us. This whole episode has been an ongoing descent into lunacy.

So how are the keepers of the asylum – the Association of Home Information Pack Providers – going to spin this one? One flew over the cuckoo’s nest? Hardly, it’s a bloody migration.

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