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24 November 2009

Tories pledge to abolish Hips

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by Kay Mitchell

Tories pledge to abolish Hips

If the Conservative party wins the next general election, it has pledged to scrap Home Information Packs (Hips).

Speaking to The Times newspaper, Grant Shapps, shadow housing minister, said his party would abolish the controversial packs “in a matter of weeks” after coming to power.

The statement will be welcomed by many industry bodies, in particular the National Association of Estate Agents who have been against the packs since day one, claiming they are a “failure” and are “costly and unnecessary”.

Hips were introduced in August 2007 and many believe they have contributed to the fall in house prices and estate agents have previously called on the Government to review the packs in an effort to help the struggling housing market.

On average, they cost between £300 and £400 and those found marketing their property without a Hip could be fined £200.

According to the Government, Hips were introduced to speed up the home buying and selling process.

However, they have been subject to criticism since their inception more than two years ago.

Mr Shapps told The Times: “House prices are rising because supply is restricted. Hips have not helped. The main priority is to scrap them. They are easy to suspend and there are emergency powers we can use to do so. This can happen very quickly. Hips will be gone in a matter of weeks.”

In response, Mike Ockenden of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP) said: “If we are moving to scrap Hips, then we must make sure we are working with the Government for the next stage. We have already introduced exchange-ready packs, which would cost about the same as Hips.”

Exchange-ready packs are completed within one month of the property going on the market – rather than at the start.

Several Hip providers have introduced them in preparation for the abolition of the packs.

Finally, Mr Shapps added that a Conservative government would increase the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 to aid first-time buyers.

Currently, the threshold is £175,000 but this will revert back to £125,000 on 1 January 2010.

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