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This week in Politics

The Government White Paper finally saw the light of day this week confirming all the leaks about relinking the basic state pension with earnings, scrapping the contracting out rebate for DC schemes and a delay in choosing who will run the NPSS.

Fierce lobbying from the likes of the ABI, IMA and Which? will now continue over what could be a long hot Summer for those involved.

The Conservatives and LibDems have both welcomed the main recommendations but expressed various worries about means testing, the effect of scrapping the contracting out rebate and questions over the true effect on savings levels.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton and Pensions Minister James Purnell have promised meetings with opposition parties in the coming weeks which should keep Purnell busy after the embarrassment of being forced to apologise for auctioning a Cherie Blair signed copy of the Hutton Report to raise Party funds.

Elsewhere home information pack arguments continued to rattle through Parliament with Tory back benchers ganging up on housing minister Yvette Cooper in a Westminster Hall debate and an Early Day Motion tabled calling for the packs to be delayed or cancelled.

Tory MP Greg Hands called the debate to go through the well trodden arguments against Hips telling Parliament one promoter of the packs had recently told him the execution of the plans is fundamentally flawed.

The area where there seems most worry at the moment is the issue of making sure enough home inspectors are fully trained by next June, as only 196 have passed out of the 7000 needed with 4000 in training.

Money Marketing has heard the Department for Communities and Local Government has hired consultants to look at revamping the exams to address this problem but of course this brings up the worry of the inspectors not being taken seriously if exams are dumbed down.

This was one of the few areas where Cooper was prepared to give ground in the debate saying opposition members were making important points but stressed there is still 12 months before the implementation date.

Cooper rubbished the rest of the arguments – blaming concern on vested interests- and joked Tory attacks were out of line with the new compassionate consumerist Conservative brand.

She also ridiculed previous evidence from Tory backbencher Ian Liddell-Grainger that the Danish housing market has been adversely effected by a version of Hips quoting a letter from the Danish estate agent association saying Liddell-Grainger was talking rubbish.

His Bill to scrap Hips comes back to the Commons in October and with Hip regulation being laid before Parliament next month followed by pilot dry runs there’s plenty of scope for continued debate and the possibility of a change in Government policy.


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