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The Govt publishes written answers to Parliament

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 26-Jun-07 05:00:08 PM

More information on Home Information Packs (HIPs) were released yesterday from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to the House of Commons in the form of written answers to questions still outstanding from earlier hearings.

I've picked a few points worthy of highlighting but you can see all the written answers at Hansards.

Home Information Pack Dry Run Trials

I know a lot of Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) and related industries are keen to see the results of the dry run HIP trials that were held in several areas of the country.

Well, don't hold your breath! Ruth Kelly was kind enough to give us... a number:

Ruth Kelly: In total we have received requests for more than 4,000 home information packs (HIPs) across all the trials.

We are still analysing and compiling the data from Phase 2 of the trials. We will publish the findings later in the year.

We are still receiving completed HIPs from pack providers and solicitors. Mori continues to conduct independent research with organisations involved in the trial and with buyers and sellers using the HIPs in their transactions.

(Bold is my emphasis)

In other words, they won't be available until it's too late to do much about them.

I'm sure there is a lot more to the story contained within those trial which will be potentially embarrassing to all concerned. I know of numerous reports of conflicting Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings given to the same property, for instance.

Additionally, I wonder if it will highlight weaknesses in the training, examination and accreditation mechanisms - There are numerous reports abound of exam questions not covered in the training; questions arbitrarily withdrawn from the examination even after the candidate had answered and submitted them, resulting in suspected "near-miss" failures; and, of course, ambiguous questions with double-meanings and/or no definitive right answer.

If you believe that it takes a mile to stop a train traveling at full speed, then you might be forgiven in thinking the same when trying to understand why the timing of the results should happen to be several months after HIPs become law.

The expected timing of the results is really exceptionally bad, both for the public, and business. It hardly inspires confidence. Plus, if they should reveal huge incompetencies in the training and/or working knowledge of Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs), then watch out!

The timing does, however, perhaps, give a further clue as to when the Government is targeting a full roll-out of Home Information Packs to all homes, because, as explained in my last post - HIPs for 3-bed homes by September? - the trigger points for the staggered implementation is partly reliant on the ' lessons learnt', which we surely have to assume must be derived from the trial run results.

Will the results matter anyway?

But d'ya know what? They'll be out-of-date by the year-end, and that, coincidentally, will be a nice fall-back position for the Govt to argue when/if the results tell a bad story.

OK I went on a bit there so here are the rest of (my) highlights from the written answers, in brief:

5,000 subsidised EPCs with every HIP before Aug

In short, a fudged reply that amounts to, no, you'll have work available, thanks to subsidised EPCs and social housing:

We have invited councils and registered social landlords to work with us to introduce energy performance certificates (EPCs) on a voluntary basis in social housing. We are also providing 5,000 subsidised EPCs with every HIP commissioned before 1 August. These two projects will support the transition in the housing market, allow for further trialling and help to deliver early carbon savings as well as ensure that there is as much work as possible for energy assessors at an early stage.

The Flexible Morphing Home

Is it a four, or three bed home? Several questions relating to the definition of a 4-bed home met with the same "brush-off" answer:

Yvette Cooper: We set out details in the home information packs regulations and commencement order which were published on 11 June 2007.

I don't believe it to be much of an issue anyway, but I suppose the opposition has a duty to labour on chinks in the armour, so to speak.

There were other questions but one of the benefits of written answers is that you are replying to questions made in the past. Consequently, some of the answers are already out-of-date (which is why I'm not making comment on the question of numbers of DEAs accredited).

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