New taskforce says housebuilders risk losing business to firms that use benchmarking to prove efficiency.
Scotland's new Housing Forum has warned housebuilders north of the border to adopt the Egan recommendations or lose work to European rivals.

The forum, which was launched last week to promote the Egan agenda in the housing sector, said Scottish firms lagged behind their English, German and French rivals in benchmarking their performance.

One forum member said the English industry had become more cost-efficient in response to the Housing Corporation's demand that firms start benchmarking. There is no such requirement from the corporation's Scottish counterpart, Scottish Homes.

The member, who asked not to be named, said: "If companies do not adopt change, there's a danger of infiltration from European competitors that are further advanced and can prove their performance through benchmarking data. It's already happening south of the border."

Miller Ventures director Bob Millar, who attended the forum's launch, said Scottish housebuilders had to begin collecting data for the key performance indicators used to establish benchmarks.

He said: "The Housing Forum's preparation has been very good. Now the industry in Scotland really has to get on with it."

However, others remained to be convinced. One director of another firm said the threat of outside competition was not serious. He said: "Scotland still seems a home fort game to me."

If companies do not change, there’s a danger of infiltration from European competitors

Housing Forum Member

Ian Muir, land and estates director of Muir Homes, pointed to land availability as the key issue facing the industry. He said: "There is a lot of talk about ways to drive down the cost of producing homes and the delivery of greater variety. The way to do that is by making more sites available."

Those attending the launch also expressed concern that Scottish architects would repeat the mass-produced eyesores built in the 1950s and 1960s.

  • England's Housing Forum, which was launched last year, has commissioned market research firm MORI to compile government-sponsored league tables of housebuilders. The firm beat rival NOP to the contract.

    MORI will canvass opinion from 12 000 new homebuyers, about 90% of the UK housing market.

    The Housing Forum is also encouraging firms to set up "demonstration organisations". These will be used to measure how well innovations from demonstration projects have filtered through to the rest of a firm's operations.

    The intention is to show that one-off demonstration projects can lead to long-term improvements.