Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 16:30 UK

Tories would make Hips 'history'

Viewing a house
Home Information Packs have proved divisive

The Conservatives have pledged to consign home information packs (Hips) to "history" if they win power.

Shadow housing spokesman Grant Shapps told the Tory conference they were symbolic of the "pointless red tape" Labour had introduced in housing.

Launched in 2007, Hips were designed to give homebuyers important information about properties but critics argue they are superfluous and have hurt sales.

Mr Shapps said the Tories were the "progressive" party on housing issues.

Paid for by sellers and containing information such as title deeds, local searches and an energy performance certificate, Hips have been controversial since their introduction.

Mr Shapps said Gordon Brown would be "the first to benefit" from their abolition "when his moving van pulls up outside Number 10".

Council tax boost

The shadow housing spokesman told delegates the government was building fewer homes than at any time since 1945.

He said the Tories would ditch "Soviet-style" targets for new housing and instead give a monetary incentive to local authorities to boost their building programmes.

Forget waiting for bureaucrats on high to ride to the rescue, we'll back your street-level initiative
Grant Shapps
Shadow housing spokesman

"Let's start by giving people something in return for development," he said. "When your community builds more homes, we'll match pound for pound the extra money that your area gets in council tax for six years.

"The more ambitious you are, the more money your neighbourhood will get."

Mr Shapps said too many rural communities were being prevented by government from building more homes, but under the Conservatives they would be given the power to expand their own housing stock by up to 10% for 10 years.

"Forget waiting for bureaucrats on high to ride to the rescue, we'll back your street-level initiative, help you regenerate your area and empower you to reclaim your neighbourhood," he said.

'Unworkable'

New plans were also announced for social tenants, including a Right to Move policy, which would allow those "who want to relocate for employment - or just to be closer to elderly relatives" to do so.

But National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said that idea was "unworkable".

"It would mean that housing associations could end up with properties dotted all over the country, with their maintenance staff having to spend entire days travelling across the country, and emitting huge amounts of carbon, just to get to one property," he said.

Mr Shapps also announced what he called a Foot on the Ladder scheme, which would give some social tenants the right to an equity stake in their properties "to cash in when they move out".



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