Your article “Four housebuilders pull out of ‘onerous’ grant process” (28 October, page 22) took a somewhat sensational line and missed at least some of the point as a result.
Opening bidding to private developers for the first time was always going to be about testing the market. We expected there to be drop-out between the pre-qualification and detailed bid stages. Housebuilders have had to think hard about how receipt of social housing grant fits with their risk profiles and business models.
The fact that having seen the first fence some have decided not to run the race is perfectly acceptable. Frankly, better that the decision should be taken now than they fail to deliver an agreed programme.
At this stage in the bid process what we do have is a healthy looking prospective programme. Currently oversubscribed by more than 100% nationwide – our potential partners tell us they could deliver 170,000 new homes – the standard of the housing association bids has improved, in part because of private sector competition.
Yes, we received some comments about the amount of time it took to complete some elements of the bid documents, and we modified our requirements where possible as a result. However, we are satisfied that the amount of information we now collect is necessary when dealing robustly with £3.9bn of public money.
We're now going to concentrate on the excellent bids we did receive rather than lamenting those we didn’t. And if organisations who didn’t submit a detailed bid this time round choose to do so in the future, then we will welcome their contribution.
Jon Rouse, chief executive, the Housing Corporation