Home Information Packs

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 16th October 2006.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster Conservative, North East Milton Keynes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Government intend to compensate those people who incurred costs training as home inspectors.

Photo of Dai Davies Dai Davies Independent, Blaenau Gwent

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consideration has been given to providing compensation to individuals who have trained to become home inspectors in relation to the delivery of home information packs.

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Conservative, Beverley and Holderness

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to compensate those who trained to become home inspectors; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people studying for the home inspector qualification will receive compensation as a consequence of recently announced changes to the scope of the Home Sellers Pack.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Labour, Hartlepool

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she plans to introduce compensation for those people who have incurred costs on training as home inspectors.

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

The Government's policy is that mandatory home condition reports (HCRs) remain on the table if the industry fails to make a success of the roll-out of HCRs. We will promote the voluntary take-up of HCRs, and have allocated £4 million to support their take-up and testing of home information packs. Therefore home inspectors will still be needed and job opportunities for home inspectors remain for those who have undertaken training. Moreover, the introduction of energy performance certificates for the private rented properties will further enhance these opportunities.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes6 people think so

No215 people think not

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Annotations

Hilary Seward
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 1:21 pm (Report this annotation)

Dear Sirs,
Thank you for asking the question about compensation. As a trainee Home Inspector who is now totally disillusioned it is good to know that some members of the House feel that we have been doen a disservice by the government.
The minister says that "job opportunities" remain for HIs doing EPC work and voluntary HCR work. There are NO job opportunities, all job offers were withdrawn when the HCR became voluntary. They may be opportunities for self-employment, but the majority in training were training for a job... not a career as self employed.
Also the dumbing down of the qualification requirements for EPC work is so massive in comparison with that for HI work the market will inevitably become flooded with new DEA entrants doing a significantly less challenging ( and much cheaper) course than that for an HI.
The EPC is a smokecsreen diverting the attention away from the fact that we were traing for a rewarding and challenging career which was promoted by the government, which was going to bring so much clarity and honesty to the home home buying process.
By making the scheme voluntary the take up of HCR will be minimal and the opportunity to revamp the house buying process has been lost. The government have no figures by which to measure successful take up voluntary of HCR, or a benchmark to say at what point they would consider mandatory HCRs again.
We just know that we have been encouraged to make massive life changing decisions, invest large sums of money and time, only to be told that in the event we will not have a job, because thye government has changed it's mind apparently over night.
It all seems very unjust and we shall be seeking compensation and hopefully we will be able to count on your support,
Yours Sincerely,
Hilary Seward

Graham Brick
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 1:59 pm (Report this annotation)

Thank you Ian Wright for asking this question.

A compulsory Home Condition Report (HCR) as in the original legislation meant there would be employed work for newly trained Home Inspectors as there were and would have been insufficient RICS qualified Surveyors to undertake the new work load.

The "market take up" of voluntary HCRs is seen by all in the property industry as so insignificant that the existing numbers in the RICS can easily cope with what little work will be available.

Accordingly all the major firms of Surveyors such as Countrywide have laid off their newly appointed Home Inspectors and have no intention of recruiting any more. Also Right Move the biggest player in promoting HIPs has withdrawn from this market after a £4 million pound investment right off. All the other HIP providers have either withdrawn from the market as well or have had to drastically redraft their business plans.

Yvette Cooper should acknowledge the thousands of trainee Home Inspectors who are now many thousands of pounds out of pocket due to this "U" Turn with no prospect of a job carrying out HCR's.

To suggest Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's) as an alternative is dodging this issue completely as to train to do these EPCs requires a fraction of the time and investment required to train to do a full HCR.

I ask you to continue your pursuit of Yvette Cooper on this issue and get her to address directly the point that the job we have/have been training for solely because of government policy now no longer exists as a result of the "U" Turn of 18th July

Graham Brick

Jim Gillespie
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 3:54 pm (Report this annotation)

Firstly, can I thank my local MP, Iain Wright, for raising this question on my behalf.

Unfortunately, I feel that Yvette Cooper's reply falls way short of answering the question to my satisfaction. Surely Ms Cooper must realise that myself and thousands of other "non industry" people signed up for training courses to become Home Inspectors largely because it was a Governemnt driven initiative and ODPM/DCLG stated quite categorically that HCR's would be a mandatory component of HIPs when they were launched in June 2007. If there had been any uncertainty about this I would never have started on my training course.

Since Sept 05 I conducted my own research to satisfy myself of this "job opportunity" as it was promoted and attended ODPM briefings as well as training provider seminars. Every piece of ODPM & training provider lierature and websites confirmed that HCR's were indeed mandatory and that 7,500 Home Inspectors would be required to cope with the demand.

The legislation itself only reached the statute books on 9th June 2006, then a few short weeks later, July 18th, Ms Cooper made an "announcement" saying that HCR's would be voluntary come June 2007, not mandatory. I would therefore like my MP to ask Ms Cooper what happened between the 9th June and the 18th July 2006 to make her do, what is commonly referred to as a "U Turn" on HCR's? Surely something as far reaching as this could not have been done without consultation with all parties involved. To the best of my knowledge NO trainee Home Inspector was consulted. Furthermore, Ms Cooper must surely realise, as the rest of the industry certainly do, that her announcement could well be a fatal blow for the very viability of the HIP project itself. A large number of trainee Home Inspectors have either withdrawn from training altogether, or are "treading water" awaiting further developments/announcements. She has therefore put an air of uncertainty into the entire project and has cause choas amongst those training for the HI Diploma qualification. Who now in their right mind would sign up now to train as either a Home Inspector, or, to add insult to injury, the new competitor she created on the 4th August, an Energy Inspector.

In my opinion, she has acted irrationally, her actions were improper and without any consulation to any of those directly affected by her actions. She has therefore failed in her duty of care to all those members of the public, like myself, who believed the Labour spin about the newly created position of a Home Inspector.

I have written directly to Ms Cooper on this very subject on the 25th September and to date, she has not even had the decency to afford me the common courtesy of a reply. I also wrote to both my local MP twice plus the Parliamentary Ombudsman since then and both have responded to me promptly. I can only assume that Ms Coopers lack of response to me is indicative of the lack of regard she has for trainee Home Inspectors.

Shame on you Yvette Cooper, you have let down the electorate who voted for Labour believing you had the interests of the everyday working men and women of this once great nation at heart.

John Hearn
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 5:36 pm (Report this annotation)

Ms Yvette Cooper is missing one key fact when saying there is still a demand for Home Inspectors. The fact is that no-one, but no-one, is now recruiting Home Inspectors. The only option open to Home Inspectors is to try and eke out a living being self employed.

I like many Home Insoectors I had and have no desire to be self employed. It was always my intention to work for a firm of surveyors, preferably one of the larger nation wide firms. I had an offer of a job from Countrywide Surveyors which was withdrawn after the 18th of July announcement. They cited the ministers U turn on HCRs as being the sole reason why. I also had a second interview lined up with another large firm. This was also withdrawn after the 18th July announcement.

When a chartered surveyor qualifies they work for 4-5 years for a firm, where they have a mentor and learn the ropes. Being newly qualified, they need the support structure offered by a firm. Very few if any surveyors opt to work for themselves straight off. The PI would be prohibitive to start with. The same would hold true for Home Inspectors.

I would like to publicly challenge the minister to name any firms of surveyors who are still looking to recruit Home Inspectors. There are none.

As a result of her U turn, the employment prospects for Home Inspectors have now been reduced to being self employed, fact. The option to work for a firm of surveyors has gone.

John Hearn

Chris Anderton
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 7:08 pm (Report this annotation)

Thank you to the Members who have raised this matter.

On July 18th, Yvette Cooper made the Home Condition Report a voluntary component of the Home Information Pack due to be introduced on June 1st 2007. It had previously been a mandatory component.

The main reason given for this U-turn was that the Government were concerned that there would be insufficient trained Home Inspectors by that date.

The immediate reaction to her announcement was that substantial numbers of HIs part way through their courses ceased training and claimed refunds from their Training Providers because there was clearly now going to be minimal demand for the reports. Many others in training have put their courses on hold to wait and see what will transpire.

At a stroke, Yvette Cooper has ensured that there will be substantially fewer qualified HIs by June than there otherwise would have been. Prior to Ms Coopers announcement, there was at least a four month waiting list to get on a training course due to the demand for places. Now the Training Providers cannot give the places away and are struggling to fill the fewer courses still on offer.

the Government still intends to introduce the mandatory Energy Report on June 1st. Currently, the only people qualified to produce these are Home Inspectors, of which there will be very substantially fewer on June 1st. A new 'dumbed down' Energy Assessor Qualification is due to be introduced around February, once the Government has decided exaxtly what National Occupational Standards will be required for the qualification. It is extremely unlikely that many will be qualified through this route by June 2007.

Therefore, we have the prospect of every single house being newly offered for sale on June 1st 2007 requiring a mandatory Energy Report with nothing like enough people qualified to produce them.

Yvette Cooper and the DCLG had forecast that 7500 Home Inspectors would be required to produce mandatory Home Condition Reports. Following the reaction to her July 18th announcement, it seems probable that there will be barely 1500 qualified by June. Many of those will be already qualified Chartered Surveyors who will have little interest in producing stand alone Energy Reports at between £75 and £100 a time.

Who therefore is going to produce all the mandatory Energy Reports in June? How will the Government react when the public are unable to market their houses without breaking the law, simply because they cannot obtain an Energy Report?

Emma Love
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 9:36 pm (Report this annotation)

Thankyou for giving the real people who were involved in the Home Information Pack implementation the opportunity to have a voice. I am heartened that there are so many MPs who have asked questions but again I feel that these have not been answered.
I am one of the people who undertook the training to become a Home Inspector. As a single mother of two, I was (apparently) an ideal candidate for this career, a reponsible, mature, and most importantly female person who the general public would 'respond to in their own homes'. Not from the industry directly, I joined the intermediate training course with one of the top three training providers, I knuckled down, performed incredible organisational manuveres with my children and my part time job and my endless list of jobs, raised the cash (several thousands of pounds) and settled in for hours of study for my new career.
Then July 18th and my whole world crashed around me. All my plans, all my hard work, and all that money. And now with the HCR a voluntary document, my job offer for January recalled. Nobody is recruiting for Home Inspectors, there is such a mass confusion within the industry that no-one actually knows what to believe or trust and the industry has, rightly responded accordingly. The Home Inspectors required to complete the Energy Assessments wont be there because so many trainees have simply lost faith completely (as I have) and walked away from the entire initiative. As I have heard many people say in the countless conversations I have had over these past few stressful months, where else would you get 4000 people to sign up, pay huge amounts of money for training and be so willing and eager to learn , in many cases a whole new industry, based purely on enthusiam?
With the Energy Assessments not required until 2010 can absolute guarentees be given to the remaining trainees who have now switched their goals to this career that June 1st will see them justify all their time, and money performing Energy Assessments ? Or will the HIP disappear completely? The Home Condition Report was a huge part of the HIP, it was the very soul of it, but it was so because it was also mandatory, making it a voluntary document not only undermines its authority but also kills it stone dead without it even being given the chance to prove how spectacularly it would have performed.

Emma Love

Nick Whiteley
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 10:17 pm (Report this annotation)

It appears that this is the standard response from the Government when questioned on compensation for Trainee Home Inspectors. The response shows nothing more but contempt for the trainee HI's by not giving a straight answer. The Government has misled thousands of people into parting with thousands of their hard earned pounds in seeking a new career; one which I might hasten to add was created by the Gov't.
The Gov't 'U-turn' form mandatory to voluntary HCR has destroyed everyone’s hopes and aspirations of earning a living at this new profession. Asset Skills quoted this no profession would be salaried between £30-40,000.00 pa, however, there a no salaried positions now available after the u-turn. Other sources quoted £70,000.00 pa for self-employed HI's. There is absolutely no chance of a self employed HI earning that kind of money from a voluntary scheme, it is well documented that only 20% of home buyers commission a survey, how many people will commission HCRs? In my opinion, it will be a lot less than 20%.

The Gov't created this new profession and has now taken the opportunity away from everyone who set about this venture. The Gov't states that mandatory HCRs are still on the table, hence their avoidance to talk about compensation. They are using this as a get-out clause when they know very well that their very actions will have an adverse affect on those training and recruitment of HIs. Many trainees have already 'dropped out' and training providers are finding that there are less people interested in becoming a HI.

I find it insulting that the Gov't are claiming that "the introduction of energy performance certificates for the private rented properties will further enhance these opportunities" for HI's. This may have been the case if the Gov’t had stood by its own legislation and allowed only HI's to carry out such work. However, from February 2007 a new course will be available for Domestic Energy Assessor, the term 'Indian givers' springs to mind. The Gov't have taken any real opportunity for HI's to earn a descent standard of living, I dare say a few will succeed but the majority of use will have to seek employment elsewhere.

Nick

Edward Kilpin
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 10:41 pm (Report this annotation)

Firstly I would like to thank all MP's who have raised the issue of compensation.

Unlike most Home Inspectors or trainee Home Inspectors I am a qualified chartered surveyor specialising in private residential surveys. It was clear from the outset that once the HIPs legislation was granted royal assent, my existing work and income stream would disappear. I had no choice but to re-train to achieve the Home Inspectors qualification if I wished to remain in (self) employment. The cost of training fees was in the order of £4,000, not to mention most available free time for 12 months.

I do not see that the Home Condition Report will ever get off the ground now that it is no longer to be mandatory, despite the governments words. And who would trust their word now? Whilst I accept there will be some domestic energy surveys to do, I still feel I have wasted £3,000 and significant time training for a qualification which has no or very little value. I certainly would not have invested time and effort to do it for something which was voluntary.

It is my firm belief that this government owes every HI or trainee HI an apology and all should be reimbursed their fees over and above what it would have cost to train to do the energy survey.

Whilst I expect them to hide behind hollow words, they will never enjoy my trust again. Their actions after 9 years or so planning this is nothing short of shameful.

Edward Kilpin
Chartered Surveyor

Mike Southworth
Posted on 17 Oct 2006 11:30 pm (Report this annotation)

Most if not all of the substantive comments and arguments have been put by correspondents above.

I would only add that I am in a similar position, having committed much time and money to a process that without doubt is now in tatters and without a hope of earning a living from, and in debt.

I have been a Labour supporter man and boy but I will never support the party again and will do all I can to persuade others not to.

If ever I dismissed the accusations of 'spin' and deceit levelled at the party in the past I regret it now.

Ms Coopers statement above will, should one ever be published, go down as a prime entry in the 'Labour book of lies 1997-?' She should be ashamed of herself and her government, not only for people like me but even more importantly for the cowardice they have shown in failing to reform the property transaction process in this country to the benefit of consumers.
Something which until literally days before her U-turn announcement she had no hesitation (correctly) in promoting.

I would urge all the MPs who have already done so to continue to challenge and expose the government on this issue.

David Maxwell-Lyte
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 8:36 am (Report this annotation)

I thank the MPs who have questioned the minister.

I had a job with Countrywide Surveyors as a trainee Home Inspector and was employed until mid September. I was made redundant.

If the biggest surveying company in the UK could see no commercial argument for keeping on its trainees then it shows that the minister's assertion that there are still job opportunities for HIs is wrong.

I have an £8000 Career Development Loan to pay off. My means of doing this has been removed. I need compensation from the government to help me pay my debts.

I hold the government policy change responsible for putting me in this position.

Derek Hayes
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 8:49 am (Report this annotation)

I thank the MPs from all parties who raised these questions in the House.

Anybody who has been subjected to a problematic and stressful property transaction in this country could see the sense in the long overdue reforms, including the introduction of HCRs, that the Government legislated to introduce.

Surely even this Govt. could have anticipated the backlash and concerted efforts of the protectionist 'antis' to preserve the status quo?

I seem to recall being told that we would see a huge raft of Govt. publicity about the benefits of the new procedures, but instead all we saw was the campaign of the anti change brigade with all the scaremongering about increased costs etc. There was absolutely nothing done by this spineless Govt. to counter this campaign of misinformation.

Like others who have posted here, I have invested thousands of pounds and untold hours of effort to achieve a qualification that is dead in the water before I even had a chance to practice. Having passed my exam and completed the great majority of my portfolio I can no longer find the motivation to complete the qualification process.

No matter what Yvette Cooper says about the Govt's commitment to the mandatory introduction of HCRs, anybody taking a reality check can see that the whole HCR initiative is now dead in the water. If she was concerned about the paucity of qualified HIs prior to July 18, how can she possibly think anybody in their right mind would now invest time and money on the basis of her most recent statement?

To my shame, I encouraged others to invest their time and hard earned money to try to qualify as a Home Inspector. I bitterly regret doing so and unashamedly apologise to them for my naivety in believing a word this Govt. says.

Timothy Lee
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 9:24 am (Report this annotation)

The Minister's answer says, 'The Government's policy is that mandatory home condition reports (HCRs) remain on the table if the industry fails to make a success of the roll-out of HCRs'

If that is genuinely the case, then it seems patently obvious that the government should publish the criteria by which success can be measured. That would then lay down a benchmark against which the public and the industry could measure the take-up of HCRs.

The obvious problem is if a mandatory deadline is re-introduced, what will the government be able to do to re-assure new trainees that it would not back down again.

The excuse given for removing the mandatory HCR was that there would be insufficient numbers ready for next summer. As I understand it there were some 4,500 people already registered with an assessment centre. Previous replies here have indicated that there was a waiting list to get on to new entrant training schemes.

The indications I received also indicated that for experienced practioners (eg: chartered surveyors) training should be possible in nine months. Even then that training would cost several thousand pounds and considerable time out of the working week, so it obviously made sense for companies to delay paying for that training to minimise the time between qualification and being able to use the qualification. On that basis then it is hardly surprising that many experienced practitioners had yet to sign up - for them it was still too early.

jonathan tedd
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 9:35 am (Report this annotation)

I thank the MPs that raised the issue of compensation.

I cannot add much more to the above comments.

To get thousands of decent people to spend thousands of pounds and life energy on yet another failed Labour scheme is a disgrace.

We shall make our voices heard.

charles brown
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 10:13 am (Report this annotation)

I thank all MP's who have raised the issue of compensation.

Quote.
"Therefore home inspectors will still be needed and job opportunities for home inspectors remain for those who have undertaken training".


Ms. Cooper,
Please take the time to show me one of these job opportunities. Had the mandatory HCR policy remained then there would have been thousands of them, now I really can’t find one. Surly that tells you something.

Your dithering, vote worrying, spineless, back peddling policy has left me and many others out of pocket and frustrated at the unbelievable dishonesty you have displayed.

I sold my small business in order to invest a year in a future I really believed would be worthwhile for myself, my family, and the home buying public.

I don’t want your scraps; your policy changes have failed me and all those without a vested interest in the property status quo. I want my money back, and compensation for my time wasted.

Charles Brown 52 year old looser.

Duncan Pate
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 10:23 am (Report this annotation)

I also wrote to my MP in July asking him to take the matter up with Yvette Copper and subsequently in September. My MP has not recieved a reply to either. So much for the accountability of Government. I undertook the training as a HI as director of a two branch estate agents because there was no other choice. I paid my £8,000 + VAT and undertook the 500 hours of study. I also paid another £2,000 on books and equipment. I did not do this not because I wanted to be a HI but because The Government had been telling us, despite vociferous opposition, that this (compulsory HCR's) was going to happen. Six consecutive housing ministers made it abundantly clear the HCR was going to be compulsory. If the HIP legislation would work with a voluntary HCR then that should have been tabled in the first instance (Even the Governments own research from the Bristol Pilot says a voluntary HCR will not work!). With so many disolusioned HI's (and any other firm who invested in this project) how do The Government honestly think that they could reintroduce this at a later date? The move to a voluntary HCR is solely to escape their responsibilities. Instead of spending another £4,000,000 of taxpayers money to prop up an ailing manifesto pledge they should compensate us for everything we have gone through and draw a line under this whole sorry scheme concentrating, instead, on genuine consultation with the housing industry to bring the genuine improvements we all want.

alan disney
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 10:35 am (Report this annotation)

Yvette Cooper says "home inspectors will still be needed and job opportunities for home inspectors remain". Could she please state which employers are recruiting now?

She should also reply to my own and numerous other peoples letters if she has the decency!

David Hudson
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 10:48 am (Report this annotation)

I am also one of those people who signed up to become a Home Inpsector and laid out my first instalment of just under £4000 for books/equipment and I only got to do one workshop before the anouncement was made to scrap the mandatory HCR and I am due to be invoiced for the second instalment this month for the same amount.

The move to carry out a dry run on Voluntary HCR's is a complete shambles, even if I had completed the course and was already qualified, those dry runs are not even being practised in my County.

I am fed up with the whole sorry mess and think we should be reimbursed in full and compensated for loss of business and earinings.

caroline byng
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 10:53 am (Report this annotation)

Trainee Home Inspectors
Yvette Cooper's response to the question for compensation for Home Inspectors is completely inadequate. As all the above have stated there simply are no jobs to be had for home inspectors - before the announcement trainees had been offered positions within firms which was how many people wished to be employed for mentoring and guidance at the start of what would have been a challenging career. All those jobs offers have been withdrawn. What more evidence does she or anyone else need? I think the word "compensation" could be misconstrued - all most of us want is the money we have lost in training for a job opportunity guaranteed by the government, returned to us. Many people have put themselves in debt to the tune of thousands of pounds for this - many people are at a particularly vulnerable stage in life when they have invested redundancy money or life savings in this venture. It is only fair and proper that their money should be returned.

Peter Sears
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 11:28 am (Report this annotation)

In common with all of the other Home Inspector Trainee's I made the decision to invest £11000 in one of the government approved courses based purely on the publicity and assurances form the government that the introduction of HCR's was going to be mandatory in July 2007.
I am the Managing Director of my own small business and due to what I perceved as being a new career, I agreed with my existing Staff / Co Directors, to relinquish my shares in 2007 and step down as MD.
Due entirely to this "U" turn, which dispite other assurances, has only been announced to "pacify" dwindling Labour support, I now find myself it a position where I am having to retract my offer, aggravate my Staff / Co Directors and find some way of writing off an £11,000.00 personal loan.
As others have mentioned, perhaps Ms Cooper would be kind enough to advise where we should be looking for this mystical employment

Murray Pakes
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 1:13 pm (Report this annotation)

I concur with all the comments made above. I took early retirement earlier this year from my career of 39 years. I borrowed £9.5K to retrain as a Home Inspector, I have since spent a further £1.5k on books, equipment and study weekends - the loan has to be repaid at the end of November! I am now unemployed with no credible prospect of employment or repaying the loan. I am in correspondence with my MP Brian Binley about this whole sorry business but have had no feedback from him for a couple of weeks now.
Ms Cooper clearly misses the point - there are no companies recruiting trainee or qualified Home Inspectors - she is clearly being very badly briefed otherwise she would not have replied in the way she did.
Quite apart from my own woes, I also feel sorry for the general public who are being denied one of the better Government initiatives to come forward since 1997, and one that I certainly believed in!

gary chow
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 2:46 pm (Report this annotation)

many thanks to all the MPs who do care about HI

How many times have we heard the words’we are fully committed to hips’ isn’t it about time Yvette Cooper and the Gov moved forward from that statement.
With over 4500 HI’s in the waiting at a training cost of approximately 36 – 45 million pounds to the trainees don’t you think that we deserve a little respect for believing in their words and the HI career they created, and end all the speculation.
Lets be honest mandatory HIPS & HCR were a good idea that is why we all came onboard if the training fees weren’t so high in the first place there would have been even more of us.
With the quantum leap from mandatory to voluntary HCR, the government have totally moved the goal posts on the HI career, most of us would not have started on this new career had we known the HCR would become voluntary.
Already the pilot dry run of voluntary HCR’s in Bristol is showing that it is not working so why throw good money after bad the £4 million they are investing in HIP promotion is so wasteful, why not use that money to go towards compensating the voters who believed in you in the first place!

Graham Hathaway
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 2:58 pm (Report this annotation)

Having read the comments from the minister and from fellow trainee Home Inspectors the key points are as follows:-

1) Guarantees were made that HCR's would be mandatory.

2) People gave up jobs, invested time and money on the guarantee that HCR's would be mandatory.

3) The bill was passed in parliament with a U turn following very soon afterwards. Massive question WHY!! This needs to be answered fully.

4) Whilst the Energy Report will still be mandatory the number of trainee Home Inspectors has reduced substantially since the annoucement. There has to be a question mark over whether there will be enough trained come June 2007 to prepare the mandatory report.

5) There is little doubt that compensation is due for the U turn. The situation is similar to the U turn re the amalgation of the region Police Forces which was cancelled at the sametime. The Police are demanding compensation for the money spent from their budgets preparing for the changes, I fully support their stance. We have an even stronger case!!!

6) By tackling this issue the Government has the opportunity of restoring goodwill. This may also reverse the trend of Home Inspectors quitting so that come June 2007 there are sufficiently trained and motivated people available to complete the Energy Performance Certificates.

I look forward in the hope of a positive response.

Ian Watkins
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 3:34 pm (Report this annotation)

I find Yvette Cooper's response inadequate.

I spent £6300 of my own money on a training programe to be a Home Inspector. This decision was based on the Government's active campaign to encourage people to become Home Inspectors. I obtained a Trainee Home Inspector post with Countrywide Surveyors as they also anticipated demand for Home Inspectors. As a result of Yvette Cooper's announcement Countrywide Surveyors decided to terminate my employment (and that of 28 other trainees) as they could see no viable future in the market for Home Condition Reports.
I am now unemployed and in considerable debt, with no means to pay it off. I have a mortgage to pay and a wife and child to support.
Yvette Cooper is incorrect when she says that their are opportunities for those who have undertaken Home Inspector training.

This was an initiative started by the Government with an active campaign to encourage people to undertake training for a new career. My career as a Home Inspector evaporated with Yvette Cooper's announcement. Surely the Government must feel it is appropriate to compensate those people like me who have suffered financial and other hardships as a result of their actions in this matter?

Mark Norris
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 9:57 pm (Report this annotation)

Like everyone else I feel I have been mislead / duped into this training which I would never of undertaken had there been a whisper of evidence to suggest that HCRs would not be mandatory after June 1st 07.

I had budgeted to start recouping the monies invested in this government designed and orientated role and the timeline placed on me by my career development loan dictated I need to start work on June 1st or very shortly after.

The vagueness of Yvette Cooper's statement does not give me a sense of security in getting my money back in the short term or even the foreseable future.

The government has single handedly steered people into unemployment, debt, desperation and misery.

I have no words to describe my feelings towards John Prescott, Yvette Cooper and Co.

Lucie Rowe
Posted on 18 Oct 2006 10:32 pm (Report this annotation)

I thank anyone who will address the Government on behalf of the trainee Home Inspectors. It seems ironic that the very people that were willing and able to put their money, time & effort into making the HIPs scheme work for the Labour chiefs who devised the idea, are now the ones that have been let down, left out in the cold and ignored. I like others who have commented already put MY money where Labours mouth was and paid to take up the Home Inspection training to make the changes needed to reform the way that houses were bought & sold in England. The HIP was to speed up the process, add to the transparancy of the process and make things cheaper/fairer for the first time buyer as they would no longer need to pay for the survey ....... well where has that idea gone now?
I have withdrawn from the course even though I was about three quarters of the way through it. This meant that I could recoup little of the £7,000+ that I had spent but this seems a better option than carrying on with all the uncertainty created by Miss Cooper's announcement on 18th July. I bought into the idea because the HCR was going to be mandatory. The only way it will work is if it is mandatory ...... no-one spends money on surveys voluntarily. The HIP as it stands now is no help to anyone and will certainly not speed up the sales process. Why are the Government kidding themselves that there is any future in the half-hearted scheme and throwing good money after bad with the funding of the trials?
With my family's saving spent, my precious time wasted and my dreams of a new career shattered I really feel that trainee Home Inspectors deserve better explanations and compensation. How can anyone trust this Government when they realise how badly they have treated the people who embraced their new idea, spent their own hard earned cash, studied for hours putting their lives on hold to become qualified in time, only to have the rug pulled from under them without a second thought or consultation. I have never felt so disillusioned in my life!

John Ward
Posted on 19 Oct 2006 8:04 am (Report this annotation)

I would also thank the MP’s who have so far raised awareness of the main points relating to this ‘farce’. I await a second response from my own MP Angela Browning who herself is waiting for a response from the minister.

I cannot add much to the previous comments but would take this opportunity to echo what I feel are some of the major points:

• Yvette Cooper’s response falls well short of addressing the issues. People who made the significant commitment of time, emotion and finance did so because it was a Government initiative, the then ODPM was categoric in its assertion that HCR’s would be a mandatory element of the HIP. Had there been any uncertainty or doubt, people (myself included) would not have made the sacrifices already recorded.
• The suggestion that there will still be employment for qualified HI’s is not proven. Absolutely no one is recruiting HI’s, any that were appointed have subsequently been made redundant. One of the major surveying firm
Countrywide has ‘no intention’ of recruiting HI’s. The largest HIP provider Right Move has now withdrawn from the market even though they have already committed some £4 million pounds at the outset.
• There is mass confusion in the market, with no one knowing who to believe or trust. To continue training incurs further commitments of time and finance with no real security of outcome. The Government has ‘U’ turned once on this issue, how can we be sure that it will not do the same again?
• The Governments claim that the introduction of energy performance certificates for private rented properties will in some way compensate for opportunities lost with the demise of HCR’s is not a reality as they have also sanctioned a new lower grade qualification to be introduced. This will serve to negate the more rigorous training that HI’s still have to complete in order to undertake the same work.

My direct financial loss is less than many at some £4,000 but I did relinquish an £8,000 management responsibility to concentrate fully on training and preparation for the June 2007 date, therefore in real terms I can count the cost on an annual basis.

John Ward

David Shellie
Posted on 19 Oct 2006 11:03 am (Report this annotation)

Why is it that ministers find it so hard to answer simple questions ie.
Q. will people who have trained as home inspectors recieve compensation.

Y.C reply: there will be work for trained HIs producing energy reports.

Real answer: No

Q. when will hcrs become a compulsary part of HIPs

Y.C.Reply: That remains on the table, we are funding market led take up of volantary hcrs.

Real Answer: Never

Q. Why the sudden U turn on compulsary HCRs

Y.C Reply: We were concerned about the number of HIs that would be qualified for June 2007, we have to think about consumer interests.

Real Answer: Gordon is not that keen on the idea and i have my career to think about.

Is it any wonder that the general public in this country are so disillusioned with politicians, tell us the truth, people might respect you a little more.
You misled thousands of potential home inspectors who have each spent thousands of their own money, invested alot of time and effort and now you have not got the decency to admit that you are wrong and compensate people.
Good luck at the next election!

paul oneill
Posted on 19 Oct 2006 11:31 am (Report this annotation)

once again I am writing, in an attempt to get justice.
all that I really ask is that the government be honest and reasonable .They must realise what they have done.It seems most of us are ordinary working people,who took up the challenge and tried to better their lives We were working to get a future. all their promises are worthless.give us the option of continuing or getting a refund ,they must see this is the only way to resolve this situation.
Paul O ,neill

Nick Whiteley
Posted on 19 Oct 2006 1:13 pm (Report this annotation)

SPLINTA who seemingly put enough pressure upon the Gov't forcing them into the 'u-turn' even agree that there is no viable business to be had.

"Few people think that a voluntary take up of Home Condition Reports is going to be either rapid or widespread. There is a theory that Home Inspectors will have work doing the mandatory Energy Efficiency Report (EER) but that will not provide more than a fraction of what they might have earned doing HCRs. A standalone EER currently costs about £70 - £120 (not the £250 figure used by the government) and is hardly an attractive commercial proposition for full time employment. Most likely - Surveyors will prepare the EER and there is no reason why suitably qualified estate agents should not also willingly take on the role and do the report when taking instructions."
Taken from http://www.splintacampaign.co.uk/.

Surely if we had a Gov't with any self respect they would compensate all HI's for this utter mess.

Stuart Benham
Posted on 19 Oct 2006 2:30 pm (Report this annotation)

Thanks to all the MP's who have raised the questions in the house.

I have invested heavily in training to become a Home Inspector approx £7000. I did this because the Labour goverment told us they needed our services for their scheme. The goverment has denied me this opportunity to work as a Home Inspecor and to provide a better life for me and my family. There is no evidence to prove that EER's will be able to provide us with a realistic salary and it is obvious that soon estate agents will carry out the EER's themselves. Why would I want to invest a vast amount of money only to produce EER's anyway. Voluntary HCR's have not worked in Bath so they are not going to work elsewhere. My partner and I have a new baby arriving in the spring and a career development loan to begin repaying shortly afterwards. Surely the goverment must do the decent thing and compensate us all for our training cost. If HCR's are re-born and become mandatory I would have no hesitation in re-paying back the goverment for any compensation the provide us.

Stuart Benham

Jim Gillespie
Posted on 2 Dec 2006 12:18 pm (Report this annotation)

Despite writing to Yvette Cooper twice now, plus representations to her from my local labour MP, she still has not got the common decency to afford me a reply.

This lack of acknowledgement by Ms Cooper is further proof, if indeed any more proof is needed, that she cares not a jot for the plight of trainee Home Inspectors.

Before long the market will be flooded with Domestic Energy assessors (DEAs), another "job opportunity" created by Labour, to ensure that there will be enough "foot soldiers" out there to do the Energy Performance Certificates. Anyone paying for a training course to become a DEA will pay a fraction of the costs that trainee Home Inspectors like myself had to shell out. In my case, my training fee was £9,400. Figures being banded about currently for DEA training courses are circa £1,000 to £1,500.

This is a disgrace and trainee Home Inspectors like myself MUST be compensated for believing Labour spin about the so called "career opportunity" of becoming a Home Inspector.