Most energy performance certifiers inspect just over one home per day at a rate of £30-45

Energy assessors working on the troubled home information pack initiative are earning less than £10,000 a year from this work, it has emerged.

It was initially feared that there would be a shortage of self-employed domestic energy assessors to award the energy performance certificates (EPCs) included within Hips. This led thousands of people to train, at a cost of £3,000-5,000, to carry out the assessments. But there are now so many assessors that the average income from this work could fall to less than £8,000 as more assessors qualify.

According to the communities department, there were 6,467 registered assessors as of 23 January 2008. The estimated earning per EPC is between £30 and £45. In most areas the number of homes per assessor per working day hovered between one and 1.4.

The average income is a far cry from the £50,000-80,000 that some training companies were promising at the beginning of last year. Industry figures have now hit out at the government for raising hopes of high salaries in order to get assessors in place quickly.

Paul Staley, managing director of ERS, which manages more than 100 domestic energy assessors for Hips firm LMS, said he has had to lay off about one-third of his assessors in recent months. He said: “During the initial recruitment drive the communities department outlined unrealistic and inflated salaries as a tactic to draw recruits.”

The situation is only going to get worse for assessors. The Council of Mortgage Lenders is predicting a fall in house sales of at least 15% over 2008, and the communities department says that, when all students are accredited, there will be 10,951 assessors.

There was no comment from the government.

The Energy Assessors' Stories.

Pamela Duncanson, Home Efficiency Services

I paid around £4,000 to take the course ready for the initial roll out of Hips back in June but then the plug was pulled. I was hoping to move into it from IT consultancy. I didn’t get my first job until October. There was no way I could give up my full-time career. I am lucky I have another freelance job.

I run a support group for Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) in the North East. We have been meeting regularly since last year to keep each other up to date with what was going on. People have lost homes and marriages.

For some people who were training up to do [the abandoned] home condition reports, it’s been a double blow. They trained for a lot longer than DEAs.

I am only able to get business by offering to do the whole Hip, including local authority searches, land registry and water survey. I keep chipping away and do about 10 a week. I don’t think having the contacts is the be all and end all. You’ve got to make the calls.

There’s still training companies jumping on the bandwagon. Even local colleges are getting in on the act. I feel sorry for people getting into this and losing everything. But at the same time you don’t spend £5,000 without doing your homework. There’s been horror stories on this on the Home Inspector Forum for months.

Neil Kurz, NRG Experts an EPC provider

It’s been a devastating journey. In 2005, the Hip legislation was introduced. With only months to go the Government pulled the plug. The training companies used the original requirement figures for Home Inspectors for DEAs so there were a lot of people who signed up in many thousands for artificially high salaries. They were talking about requirements of 7,500 to 8,000; the Government said 2,500. The Government were aware of this but they didn’t correct them.

The suggestion was that the EPCs would cost £100 to £120 carry out. Now they are averaging £45. That’s not a great place to be.

People have been naïve in their thousands. I am surprised how naïve Ruth Kelly was, too, since all the facts have always been available. The Government has mishandled this.

Worse still, the Government is cutting its Hips team.

Paul Staley, ERS, an EPC provider for Hips firm LMS

During the initial recruitment drive the Department for Communities and Local Government outlined unrealistic and inflated salaries as a tactic to draw new recruits to the industry.

From the outset senior industry sources, including ERS, warned the Department for CLG about their misleading actions, however, this advice was disregarded.

The present situation has seen a surplus of self-employed DEAs in the industry, many of whom are currently experiencing financial difficulties. This result can only be blamed on the Government.

The attached document goes into more detail about regional variations about the number of EPCs to be carried out around the country. There are three a day in London and only one in the South-West of England. The spread sheet also shows what happens to a DEA's average wage based on the price per EPC. With the number of DEAs approaching 11,000, the figure could start dropping down through the thirties.