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Hips delayed until August 1st

The government has put the introduction of its controversial home information packs (Hips) scheme back by two months until August 1st.Communities secretary Ruth Kelly announced the delay, which follows a complaint lodged at the high court by the Royal Chartered Institute of Surveyors (Rics) in the House of Commons to howls of laughter from opposition MPs.The Conservatives say the government is in "retreat" over Hips, with shadow housing minister Michael Gove asking if the minister's statement was a result of "deadly arrogance or fatal ignorance?".Today's postponement stems from Rics' protest that there are insufficient numbers of accredited energy surveyors to assess homes for energy performance certificates, due to be rolled out in conjunction with Hips.Ms Kelly today admitted that introducing Hips on June 1st would have been "neither practical or acceptable", insisting that cutting carbon emissions should go "hand in hand with market transformation".Until there are sufficient numbers of accredited energy surveyors the packs, which are paid for by the seller at a minimum cost of £300 and supply buyers with title deeds and energy certificates, will only be required for housing transactions involving four-bedroom properties. "The approach I have set out gives clarity about the next steps the government will take, it delivers Hips and energy performance certificates, removes uncertainty for energy assessors and ensures a smooth transition for people buying and selling their property," Ms Kelly said in conclusion."Most importantly, it provides an opportunity to make real progress to cutting carbon emissions."In response, Mr Gove said the two-month delay was a "humiliating climb-down".

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