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RICs Deny HIPs Deal and DEAs Voice Anger at Delay

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 23-May-07 02:19:14 AM

The Energy Performance Certificate component of the Home Information Pack (such a mouthful innit!) has really got the Govt by the tail, it seems.

In their statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, the Government claimed to have:

... been in negotiation with RICS in order to avoid a lengthy delay as a result of the legal process. The Government can today announce an agreement has been reached.

Full statement.

I didn't know this, but apparently the RICs had persuaded a Judge to issue an Order preventing EPC's from being included within HIPs from 1 June, until the court had fully considered the RICs application. This was decided last Wednesday (16th May 2007).

It's this court Order that gives the RICs, therefore, quite a different view of the terms of their "agreement":

"RICS has not withdrawn the Judicial Review – it has been ‘stayed’ and can be reactivated if the Government fails to deliver on its obligations."

RICs response.

So the RICs now effectively call the shots - At any time they can bounce the Govt back into court and threaten a drawn-out Judicial Review, knocking the launch of HIPs back into a continued hiatus during the process, in theory.

Furthermore, there are several conditions the RICS attached to this "agreement":

  1. The Government provide a 12 week consultation period on EPCs
  2. The Government publish a Regulatory Impact Assessment (including a full cost-benefit analysis)
  3. The Government pay RICS' legal costs.

Condition #1 is a bit tricky: There are only 10 weeks to the new launch-date of August 1st.

In what could be perceived as a nose-rubbing exercise, the RICs are also "asking" the Govt to attend a meeting/confrontation of industry stakeholders on June 7th to discuss the way forward on "house buying reform"... three key words which seem to imply a wider agenda than just HIPs.

DEAs Angry and Looking for a Fight

In the middle of all this, beneath the trajectory of the airborn grenades, stand the growing army of disillusioned (and out-of-pocket) energy assessors.

According to the latest figures released by the Govt today, there are 520 DEAs ready to work, now! They also revealed that there are 1500 DEAs who have definitely qualified and are either in the accreditation pipeline, or already accredited (Gotta love how they try to obfuscate the numbers like that haven't you!).

So, doing the maths: 1500-520 = 980 (non-accredited DEAs)

We have, therefore, roughly a third who are beyond the precipice; fully invested; current employment expiring in a week's time; and now looking forward to two months of no guaranteed income.

The other two thirds are just as fully invested (I don't believe the accreditation fee is refundable) but just shy of stepping beyond the precipice - They'll, no doubt, be a good number of them who have equally handed-in their resignation to their existing employers, however, because they will have needed to give a month's notice.

So if we take a conservative £3000 as the average cost trainees paid to train, qualify and become accredited, we arrive at a grand total of £4.5m... much of which was handed-over to the RICs, for they are a training provider.

Guess who - in addition to the Govt - are angry with the RICs?

Does that make the Govt a best friend of our DEAs? Not quite.

DEAs are angry that the Govt, in their haste to quickly launch, have left themselves exposed to this setback in the first place: They've experienced the shortcomings of the training courses; many are even forgiving of their training providers, appreciating the huge pressures of implementing a hurriedly-drafted and complex training program that meets both the National Occupational Standards (NOS), and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

All that, before even touching on the (lack of) infrastructure needed to work this machine: Only one Government-approved software package to calculate and process EPCs (untested in the open-market); the apparent lack of Public Indemnity insurers; a confusing legal framework (client terms and conditions etc...); HIP providers dictating unworkable fees. The list truly goes on.

In short, they are acutely aware the Govt dumped a huge pressure on the market to provide the estimated 2500 DEAs needed to launch HIPs by June 1st...

... training courses were not even available until the beginning of March!

In the midst of all this - in the back's of each DEAs mind - sub-consciously, they've seen this coming. Yet at the same time, they've struggled to believe their Government - the principal of societal organisation - had not, in the 10-year run-up to this point, thought-through the logisitcs and timeline.

Who to Shoot?

Consequently, DEAs are confused as to who should pay: A lady appearing on Channel 4 news tonight (I'm sorry I don't recall your name, if you're reading), suggested that NAHLI and the Institute of Home Inspectors (IHI) consider legal action against the Government; Neil Kurz of NRG Experts, - who today took delivery of 8 new computers in preparedness for a June 1st launch - is angry at the RICS for biting the hand that feeds: He is calling-for, and pledging support...

... to any group wishing to take legal action against RICS for the position they have taken over the last 18 months whereby they have taken funds from students encouraging them to train as DEA/HIs but have been actively campaigning against the Housing Act...

He is also predicting:

... that we will see a further 8-10 pack providers removed from the marketplace reducing competition for the consumers benefit.

In other words; higher prices. He is forecasting that energy assessors and HIP providers will drop out of the market, either through financial collapse in the case of the latter, or simply the need to find alternative work.


It's a mess reminiscient of a Quentin Tarantino movie where all the characters are pointing guns at anyone and everyone.

There was a term for this during the Cold War years: M.A.D.

Mutually Assured Destruction.

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