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Govt could face multi-million-pound claims over Hip U-turn

Furious home information pack providers and home inspectors are threatening action to recoup the millions of pounds they have lost after the Government’s dramatic Hip U-turn.

Providers say they may seek compensation after the Department for Communities and Local Government last week announced that home condition reports will be voluntary, removing the major component of the packs.

Many of the estimated 4,700 home inspectors who are in training want to get back the 7,000 they have each spent, totalling just under 33m.

Total industry expenditure is estimated at 250m.

The Awarding Body for the Built Environment, which runs training courses for home inspectors, says training centres have already seen redundancies as demand for qualifications wanes.

Abbe project manager Roger Bishop has written to housing minister Yvette Cooper protesting that the Government has gone back on its word in April that HCRs would be mandatory and saying that many qualifications now have no value.

Bishop says: “The change brings the validity of our qualification into question. The timing of the announcement came when the scheme was gaining momentum. Candidates are looking to recoup their losses but I do not know of any centres that have said they will give refunds yet.”

A DCLG spokeswoman says it is up to individual centres to offer refunds.

Conveyancer Easier2Move has also blasted the DCLG for failing to give warning of the U-turn. Sales and marketing director Karen Babington says: “I am now questioning whether we should help the DCLG to gather statistics. If other Hip providers seek compensation, then we will follow. We still need assurances that Hips will be implemented on June 1, 2007 as we cannot trust the Government now.”

The Scottish Executive has confirmed that the Government U-turn will have no impact on property information packs, the Scottish version of Hips, where HCRs will still be mandatory.

POTENTIAL LOSERS FROM THE U-TURN ON HIPS

Conveyancers
Easier2Move, Homepackplus, LMS, Shoosmiths

Estate agents
Spicerhaart, Rightmove

Hip specialists
Hipstar, Mysalepack, Reallyhip, Simplyhip

Home inspector training firms
Sava

Property services
Lending Solutions

Surveyors
Allied Surveyors, Countrywide Surveyors, Homesurv

Technology Firms
SearchFlow, xit2

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