HIPs are back. On Wednesday 1 August, Home Information Packs for houses of four bedrooms or more will be (re)introduced. But the Conservative shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles believes that HIPs could be used to surrepitiously raise council tax. The Tories believe that the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), the body responsible for deciding a property’s council tax band, has applied for access to the information contained in the HIPs which they could then use to assess tax rates. The government denies that information will be made availabe to the VOA.
This news comes hot on the heels of a report by credit ratings agency, Fitch, that the UK housing market is the world’s second most overvalued market after France. The report found that UK house prices are at least 20 per cent overvalued compared with the long-run trend, with household incomes, and with rents. Along with high consumer debt the UK’s economy is seen as vulnerable to a rise in interest rates.
The government-approved count of the number of homeless has again been criticised. Manchester-based drugs charity, Lifeline, has disputed government calculations that there were seven people sleeping rough in Manchester, claiming that there are between 230 and 400 homeless people in the area. The charity says that the count was carried out over one night only, with counters told they were to avoid entering areas regarded as dangerous, and to only include those people who were ‘bedded down’ for the night. The system for a counting rough sleepers in England has remained the same for the past ten years.
Glasgow Housing Association, has finally appointed a new chief executive – Taroub Zahran. Ms Zahran has been Acting Chief Exccutive of the GHA since February of this year, after joining the organisation in November 2002. The post has been vacant since Michael Lennon quit in January.