Housebuilders' commitment to tables questioned after working group fails to unveil ranking criteria.
The government-backed working group producing performance league tables of housebuilders as part of the Egan initiative is in danger of missing its autumn deadline.

Westbury chief executive Martin Donohue, who is joint chairman of the working group, was expected to reveal draft proposals for ranking housebuilders on Tuesday but the meeting was cancelled and it is unclear when grading criteria will be ready.

Construction minister Nick Raynsford told housebuilders at last autumn's inaugural meeting of the Housing Forum, which was set up to pursue the Egan agenda in the housebuilding sector, that he wanted to see league tables within 12 months.

The forum then set up a working group of housebuilders and officials to decide on how the tables would be organised, and to oversee their publication.

A source close to the group said: "It's unlikely that results from any survey will appear in the next 18 months. Three months into the process, the working group has yet to decide how to measure, what to measure and how finally to present the results to the general public."

The source questioned housebuilders' commitment to the initiative, and complained that: "The 18 January meeting was cancelled with no new date set and no explanation for the cancellation given."

It’s unlikely that results from any survey will appear in the next 18 months

A Working Group Source

David Crewe, chief executive of the Housing Forum and a member of the working group, played down the significance of the delay, but was unable to say when the group would meet next.

He acknowledged that the meeting had been postponed because Donohue had not completed the draft proposals for the ranking criteria, but added: "We're confident we will make the deadline for publication of the first survey this autumn. The brief detailing how we will conduct the survey will be released in March as scheduled."

Other members of the group expressed concern about the timetable. One said: "The Housing Forum has set itself an extremely tight deadline. The forum seems determined to conduct a very broad consultation process across the industry. They will find it difficult to complete."

One group insider said housebuilders were divided over whether they should be ranked in regional or national tables.