22 May 2007
Government Legislates Against Four Bedroom Houses
So it has been announced that HIP-lite is to be ushered in to cover just 20%* of the residential housing market. With Home Information Packs (HIPs) as with supercasinos, the government unleashed a massive white elephant only to scale back at the very last minute in the face of reasonable and almost unanimous opposition. Not really the way to go, but we should be used to it. I'm sure there are plenty of disgruntled energy assessors and May house sellers today.
HIPs are a terrible idea, but I suppose having a pilot scheme applying to the rich isn't a disastrous outcome. Commentators who had predicted that the introduction of HIPs could precipitate a collapse in house prices were probably wrong. In fact, they may well be a factor in keeping the current residential property bubble going as the most direct effect of their introduction will be a fall in the number of high-end properties brought to market. The housing market is already woefully clunky. HIPs will do little more than add an additional bottleneck.
Of course, as Labour have known all along (and this is an indictment of the British electorate), the government left holding the baby when property prices do collapse will pay a big price at the ballot box. Note that Labour policies of mass immigration, increased planning regulation, shared equity and key worker schemes have only served to delay and intensify the inevitable day of reckoning.
Phased in land value tax to replace the existing muddle of property taxes is the only sensible market solution to the housing crisis. For the record, if Yvette Cooper is the kind of dogmatic, hectoring screwball who will be promoted under Brown, you should be very concerned, if you aren't already...
In preparing this post, it's dawning on me that HIPs aren't going to happen at all. If you're a trained energy assessor, I'd advise you to find something else to do.
* This estimate would no doubt include my parents' home, but their "fourth" bedroom is an office. I'd imagine that, in practice, HIPs will apply to less than 10% of the housing market.