A couple of days ago the Mail on Sunday highlighted some of the problems there have been with people trying to claim compensation from HS2. But it’s not just the press who are interested in knowing how the HS2 compensation schemes have been working, it’s also the committee of MPs scrutinising the HS2 Bill.
Recently, the Robert Syms MP, the Chair of the HS2 Select Committee, has written to MPs asking for feedback on how the Need to Sell scheme has been working on Phase 1 since it replaced the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (AKA the Exceptionally Hard to get Scheme) in January. EHS is still operating on Phase 2. The questions being asked by the committee are:
- Is the revised scheme rolled out in January more effective?
- Are applicants with a genuine reason to sell being accepted?
- Are applicants whose reason is their age and stage in life being accepted?
- Are applications being dealt with efficiently?
- Is the amount of financial scrutiny more reasonable?
- How easy is it to demonstrate inability to sell based applicants’ on location in particularly badly affected areas?
- Are grounds for application that have been accepted at one stage now being accepted on later applications?
- Is the scheme working successfully to reassure those who would actually prefer to stay on in their homes that they can be accepted at a later date if they need to?
- Are valuations being conducted fairly?
- Is there a problem with HS2’s use of valuers not from the local area, and why?
- How easy are the forms and guidance to understand, and how clearly do they explain flexibility of application criteria and required evidence?
- Have you encountered instances where borrowing against property value for business purposes has been prejudiced by blight (e.g. small business owners raising capital from their own homes and finding it difficult)
- Are cases of particularly adverse effect (e.g. special proximity to construction works) being treated fairly as deserving special compensation?
There is no need for an individual to address every question and other issues can be mentioned. Statistics on the Phase One official figures show just 26% of the 574 Need to Sell applications have been accepted as of October 31st. Whilst the committee has not asked for information about Phase 2 compensation (as the bill before them is only concerned with Phase 1), we are sure they will still look at information concerning Phase 2 with interest.
MPs have until 11th November to reply to Mr Syms. If you do not have contact details for your MP, you can contact them via They Work For You. If you do not get a response in time from your MP, you could try contacting the Clerk of the HS2 Select Committee directly via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org