Construction minister stresses need for more public information, but says that industry must pick format.Raynsford climbs down on housebuilder league table Construction minister stresses need for more public information, but says that industry must pick format.

The government has backtracked on its insistence that housebuilders form performance league tables.

Speaking at the launch of the Housing Forum’s government-sponsored survey to assess the efficiency and reliability of housebuilders, construction minister Nick Raynsford said the format for grading housebuilders was a matter for the firms themselves.

Last year, Raynsford told the industry he wanted to see housebuilder league tables similar to those the government produces for hospitals and schools.

However, at the launch, Raynsford said: “I do want to see information that will tell housebuilders and the public the performance of the type of housing and housebuilders. But how it is done is a matter for the professionals.”

The Housing Forum committee looking at the issue is composed of housebuilders and consumer group representatives. It is chaired by Westbury chief executive Martin Donohue.

A number of housebuilders had expressed unease at the prospect of being ranked in league tables, preferring some sort of rating system along the lines of the Michelin stars for restaurants.

Whichever system is chosen, Raynsford said the industry needed to do more to improve the efficiency and quality of its product.

“I do get a certain number of letters complaining about housebuilders. Not as many as I used to get in opposition, but there are still too many people who express dissatisfaction and we must get to a ‘zero defects’ culture,” he said.

Christopher Lorentzen, head of the National Association of New Home Owners, a consumer group that assists purchasers of new homes, said the idea of rating housebuilders was flawed.

He said: “Whichever system they use, league tables or Michelin stars, the whole thing will simply mislead the public. Housebuilders do not build homes. They are built by an ever-changing workforce of subcontractors and site managers. Better regulation is what is needed.”

Over the summer, the survey will start polling more than 11 000 homeowners who have purchased new-build homes since March 1999.

The results of the survey will be published in October.