11th November 2008
Clearly Gordon Brown regarded the calibre of his Housing Minister to be just a bit more important in the current climate than in years gone by. Why else would he appoint a heavyweight former Foreign Secretary to the post? He clearly must have accepted that the HIPs debacle, overseen by Labour's previous seven ministers, has contributed not only to our present housing crash, but also the prospects of his party's re-election.
In just a few weeks time homeowner electors will discover that, with Christmas out of the way, their plans to immediately put their properties on the market will be thwarted by Nanny Brown. Not only will they then have to write a £350 HIPcheque before they can fly the flag board, but they have to wait for uncertain parts of the HIP to return first. No one, not even our masters in this - the Department for Communities and Local Government, seem to know what's going on. Confusion, not for the first time where HIPs are concerned, reigns supreme.
Ask 10 estate agents what needs to be done on 2/1/09 before details can be printed, web uploaded, board erected and you will get 10 different replies , why - because no one knows, and the CLG, for one, doesn't even seem to care. In these conditions, can the politicians seriously expect agents to police a policy of non-marketing their clients' homes for them? Indeed do most agents even know, for instance, what bits of the HIP they do need back and which bits they don't before they can get cracking?
As far as I can gather, if Ms Beckett does nothing the law stands - no 'First Day Marketing' until some parts of the HIP are paid for and back, what parts - how long - who knows. To put the brakes on this debacle she needs authority from Parliament in the form of a legislative vehicle, even the 'suspension powers' she currently has need to take a similar route if she is of a mind to halt the whole HIPs process, and I see no activity on this front at present.
For goodness sake Margaret, what's left of the estate agency profession plead with you - be brave, do something, get on with it , be the one to wield the secateurs on 'first day marketing' (but preferably on the whole HIP bush) and you may just be the first to encourage the green shoots of property market recovery in the New Year.
Editors note. Trevor Kent's petition to No 10 Downing Street calling for 'First Day Marketing' to continue has attracted 1500 signatures putting it in the top 70 of nearly 6000. It can be found at
© Trevor Kent