No prizes for guessing what the papers are full of today. The slow motion car crash that has been in the making for many, many months now has finally made impact - though not entirely in the manner predicted nor has the crashing car come to halt yet. Yesterday the Home Improvement Packs (HIPs) fiasco finally came to a head. The watered down, un-necessary, unwanted scheme that has been doomed to fail from the start has failed before they even started! As reported yesterday, the scheme has been put back by two months until the start of August. They have also been watered down even further to the point that they are a complete nonsense and totally redundant. Incredibly it has taken the Government to within 10 days of implementation to finally back down!
Ruth Kelly was forced in to the embarrassing climb down after the legal challenge by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the realisation that no amount of spin could get round the fact that there were not enough inspectors to actually get the damned things implemented. She was forced to admit in the Commons that 2,000 inspectors would be needed to carry out the energy performance reviews by June 1 but only 520 had been fully accredited. What a complete failure by the government!
Even more ridiculously, the packs will only be required for houses with four or more bedrooms from the 1st August. I think estate agents will be amazed at how many three bedroom houses with luxuries such as studies and playrooms are about to come on the market. Kelly response to this fiasco - "We are pleased we have reached an agreement with RICS and potentially avoided a lengthy court case and months of delays." Pleased?! Who are trying to kid? You have egg all over your face, how can you possibly be pleased?
No doubt Ruth Kelly and Yvette Cooper will not be talking again after their disagreements on all this - especially as it was Cooper who wanted to force HIPs through and Kelly who was not so sure. And no doubt this speech will not be referred to again!
Estate Agents are not happy either. They are predicting the slow response to all this by the Government and the last minute changes are to blame for a rush of house selling this month (increasing prices) and will also contribute to a similar rush in a couple of months. The National Association of Estate Agents even comes up with a simple solution, that everyone has been telling the Government for months -"It is clear from Ruth Kelly's statement that the government is still confusing the home information pack and the energy performance certificate issues. EPCs do not need to be dealt with as part of HIPs. Extracting them from the Pack legislation would satisfy the green agenda and make the whole process easier."
The Green groups have also had laid in to the Government over this too - Dave Timms, the green homes campaigner at Friends of the Earth's Green Homes, said: "We are furious that the RICS's legal challenge has forced the Government to delay the introduction of EPCs. This is bad news for the fight against climate change". No one is happy about this complete cock up, yet the Government have known it was coming for over 12 months now. Why did they just not pull out and leave it alone? Because they can't, they have to meddle in everything they possibly can. This isn't over yet either - though don't be surprised if Brown bites the bullet and scraps the whole thing once and for all.