Session 2007-08 3 January 2008
Communities and Local Government Committee Departmental Annual Report 2007
The decision to delay the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPS) was taken on political rather than economic grounds, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee concludes today.
In its report on the DCLG Annual Report 2007 the Committee criticises the introduction of HIPs saying it was one of the areas where the Department failed to deliver. However the Committee commends the Department in a number of other areas of its work.
MPs say the decisions to delay and then to phase in HIPs for homes of different sizes across a period of months owed more to a failure of nerve, "in the face of vocal opposition from the press and others rather than the general conditions prevailing in the housing market."
CLG Committee Chairman Dr Phyllis Starkey said: "The long and tortuous process of introducing Home Information Packs signals a failure of delivery on CLG's part. It is clear the reasons for this lie in poor preparation and then a retreat by the Department's ministerial team."
More generally, the Committee recognises the Department faces difficult challenges because to a greater degree than perhaps any other Government Department CLG depends on others to deliver what it promises.
The Committee commends the work CLG has done with its partners on the Decent Homes programme, which it describes as an outstanding example of local government delivery.
The Committee is also encouraged that the overall number of accidental fire-related deaths has fallen to 227 in 2006-7 from 349 in 1998-9. However it notes that the time taken by fire services to respond to emergency calls is rising. In 2001 46 per cent of fires were responded to within five minutes but in 2006 that figure fell to 37 per cent. It would like to see more research into the impact of congestion on response times.
On race equality and community cohesion the Committee commends the introduction of a new sharper Public Service Agreement as part of the 2007 CSR process and it would like the Department to go even further and seek to influence change in local areas where cohesion is in question or where new threats to cohesion arise.
The Committee's Second Report of Session 2007-08DCLG Annual Report 2007will be published at 00.01 am on Thursday 3 December 2007.
Copies can be obtained on request from the Communities and Local Government Committee. Copies of the Report will be sent to all those who submitted evidence to the inquiry.
The Report can be viewed on the Committee's website from approximately noon on Thursday 3 January at:
NOTES TO EDITORS:
In the Department's 2006 annual report HIPs were identified as a "key priority" for the coming year. Within weeks of this the then Secretary of State Ruth Kelly announced that the pack would not include a mandatory Home Condition Report, intended to save house buyers the cost and time spent purchasing expensive surveys of their own.
HIPs should have then been rolled out in June 2007 but were introduced two months late in August following considerable uncertainty and then only for homes with four or more bedrooms. Three-bedroomed homes were added in September, Only in December 2007 were the weakened HIPs being introduced for all homes marketed for sale.
Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair, Lab), Sir Paul Beresford MP (Con), Mr Clive Betts MP (Lab), John Cummings MP (Lab), Jim Dobbin MP (Lab/Co-op), Andrew George MP (Lib Dem), Mr Greg Hands MP (Con), Anne Main MP (Con), Mr Bill Olner MP (Lab), Dr John Pugh MP (Lib Dem), Emily Thornberry MP (Lab).
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