News of spending watchdog's examination comes a week before Hips are finally introduced to all homes
The National Audit Office is to launch an inquiry into the failed attempt to bring in home information packs this summer, writes Stuart Macdonald.
Parliament’s spending watchdog will also scrutinise the planning system and the £40bn programme to bring social housing up to a decent standard.
The move to examine the government’s record on Hips comes as it is finally extended to all homes from next Friday. It had hoped to roll the scheme out in August but was forced to delay it after the RICS threatened to instigate a judicial review, and it emerged that there were too few inspectors to carry out energy assessments.
David Corner, director of regions, regeneration and renewal at the audit office, said: “It’s obviously too early to look at the impact of Hips but the report will focus on how effectively the department has gone about appointing people to carry out EPCs [energy performance certificates].”
He said the study, which will begin in earnest next month, will be presented to MPs “before the summer recess”.
Corner added that he planned to investigate whether the changes the government has made to the planning system, including boosting funding for planning departments to £425m between 2004 and 2007, have increased housing output. It will be completed by autumn next year.
The inquiry comes at a delicate time for Gordon Brown as his target for building 240,000 homes in England each year by 2016 is brought under increasing pressure by falling house sales.
The scope of the inquiry into the flagship decent homes programme has yet to be decided.
n Conservative MPs are trying to use an amendment to the Housing and Regeneration Bill that is being debated in the Commons to abolish Hips.