Hips, which were launched in 2007 and have since become mandatory for anyone selling a home, have been dogged by criticism. Estate agents have long complained they add red tape to the selling process, while sellers have grumbled about the £200-£400 price tag attached to the packs.

Today communities secretary, Eric Pickles, laid an order before parliament suspending Hips, pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition. "The expensive and unnecessary home information pack has increased the cost and hassle of selling homes and is stifling a fragile housing market," he said. "That is why I am taking emergency action to suspend the Hip, bringing down the cost of selling a home and removing unnecessary regulation from the home buying process.

"This action will encourage sellers back into the market, and help the market as a whole and the economy recover." Sellers will still be required to get an energy performance certificate (EPC), showing how energy efficient a property is, within 28 days of putting their home on the market, as this is a requirement under EU law. The cost of these is typically around £60. The National Association of Estate Agents welcomed the news, saying that Hips had "failed to benefit homebuyers and actively discouraged sellers."

However, the announcement will mean that thousands of people who trained as home inspectors and rely on the packs for their income could lose their jobs. There are between 3,000 and 10,000 people whose livelihoods depend on Hips, according to the Association of Home Information Pack Providers.