Firm axes staff after HIPs delay

THE Government has been accused of “incompetence” by an Essex company forced to make 30 staff redundant after the delays and changes to home information packs (HIPs).

THE Government has been accused of “incompetence” by an Essex firm forced to make 30 staff redundant after the delays and changes to home information packs (HIPs).

Hips.co.uk had employed extra staff in its Colchester call centre in readiness for the introduction for the HIPs on June 1.

But the Government announcement that HIPs have been delayed until August 1 - and then will only be for four-bedroom properties and social housing - has caused chaos.

Stephen Nation, managing director of hips.co.uk, part of the Spicerhaart group, said: “This is a terrible time for those employees involved, whose livelihoods have been destroyed in one fell swoop by a Government which has shown nothing but incompetence.


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“These staff have been receiving intensive training in handling enquiries relating to HIPs and have become very much a part of the Spicerhaart team and we are devastated that we are going to have to let them go.”

HIPs are intended to bring together all the information people need to buy or sell a home, and all home owners were due to be asked to prepare a HIP before they put their properties up for sale.

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Mr Nation said the new rules meant only one in five properties on Spicerhaart's books would need the new pack.

He said company was planning to keep a small number of staff to handle those enquiries, working alongside 70 others handling valuations, mortgages and conveyancing.

He added that hips.co.uk had now been left in limbo, uncertain as to which way to progress in case HIPs are scrapped altogether.

Paul Smith, Spicerhaart's chief executive, said: “We believe the new proposals are completely unworkable. It's outrageous that, just two weeks away from the introduction of HIPs, the Government has done yet another U-turn with such devastating consequences for so many people. Across the country, firms are laying off staff as a result of this fiasco.

“We are now calling on the Government to scrap HIPs totally and just introduce energy performance certificates, which will help them to meet their Kyoto and EU targets and will influence homeowners to become more energy efficient.

“The Government has done enough damage to our industry. This is the least they can do to ensure we can now all move forward.”

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, told the House of Commons, that there would probably not be enough assessors trained and qualified for the HIPs for the start of next month.

She said: “The Government remains convinced of the importance of home information packs and energy performance certificates. Home information packs will cut costs and delays in buying homes.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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