Homes England

Help to Buy and Affordable Housing Beta

17 Incomplete applications

15 SME, 2 large

39 Completed applications

23 SME, 16 large

Important dates

Friday 26 June 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 3 July 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 10 July 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We are looking for a delivery partner to provide multiple multi-disciplinary teams to take the Help to Buy Equity Loan & Affordable Housing services through beta and in to live.
Latest start date
Monday 31 August 2020
Expected contract length
The expected contract length is around 1 year with the potential to extend to become a 2 year term.
Organisation the work is for
Homes England
Budget range
The anticipated budget for the total contract is up to £8,000,000 spread over two years

About the work

Why the work is being done
Homes England are committed to delivering:
1. A new application process including guidance content for Help to Buy & Affordable Housing
2. An equity loan management system for Help to Buy
3. Data platform that will be our single source of truth for data
4. A new technical architecture based on modularisation and reusable components

The supplier will work closely and collaboratively with Homes England’s in-house team to enable effective knowledge transfer, ensuring any future services can be maintained by Homes England’s staff.

This contract is to take this work into beta, and do further alphas where needed.
Problem to be solved
Homebuyers don’t have:
-clarity on what support government can give them to buy a home
-a consistent experience when applying for our services
-a digital service for making changes to and paying their Help to Buy Equity Loan

Homebuilders can find the registration and follow-up processes time-consuming and arduous.

Managing applications across multiple systems and manual rekeying of data can cause confusion and errors

No single source of truth for data and extensive data quality issues.

Reliance on legacy technology and proprietary systems
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our primary users are:
potential homebuyers who need help from Government to buy a home
homeowners who need to administer their equity loan
builders who need confidence that there will be demand for new homes that they build

Other users are mortgage advisors, mortgage brokers, developers, independent financial advisors, lenders and back office staff/suppliers. We need to ensure that their experience is seamless and uncomplicated.
Early market engagement
Early market engagement has taken place with suppliers for this requirement. All suppliers on this framework were notified of the event via email.
Any work that’s already been done
Discovery phase is complete. “I want to apply for an equity loan” will be GDS assessed GDS in July and “I want to manage my equity loan” will be GDS assessed in August. We are aiming to start the Beta phase in August 2020 subject to passing service assessment. Separate to this procurement, we are procuring a loan administration system, a team to work on improving our data, and a team to complete discovery and alpha phases in affordable housing. It is anticipated that this supplier procured here will eventually take on Beta delivery in all of these areas.
Existing team
The supplier will be working with Homes England colleagues primarily in London. The Help to Buy Core Team team will oversee the work of supplier teams and will consist of the following:

Service Manager
Product Management
Service Design
User Research
Technical Architect
Content Design
Performance Analysis
User support

Each of our teams will include a product manager and subject matter experts from Homes England and a team provided by the supplier. Homes England may add other roles to teams to increase business resilience, share knowledge and build capability.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The team are mainly based in 50 Victoria Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 0TL

There is limited space in this office, so the teams (including members from Homes England) will mostly be expected to work remotely or from your office. Teams should have easy access to London, as we expect for all teams to be able to collaborate face to face with Homes England team members where preferable to do so.

Supplier will also be required to occasionally visit various other offices and stakeholder sites across England
Working arrangements
We expect full time 5 day per week from delivery teams to meet outcomes.

We value colocation, and expect for teams to co-locate for at least 2 days per 2 week sprint. We would like a London base from where we can workshop and plan. Whilst Covid restrictions are in place, we will continue to work as a remote first team.

Detailed working arrangements, including team location, size and make-up, will be contained within each statement of work.

The development partner must follow Homes England's IT and security procedures and policies in relation to access, data and equipment use.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Standard Framework and Call Off Terms and Conditions. Any expenses shall be submitted in line with DfT standard T&S policy.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Demonstrable experience managing the Transformation of complex (ie. Many dependencies, complicated user journeys) UK Government digital services from Beta to Live with multiple (3+) cross functional agile teams
  • Demonstrable experience delivering digital products & services using Microsoft Technologies Azure cloud platform, Dynamics 365, .NET Core and Angular
  • Demonstrable experience of building secure and scalable microservice architecture with OAuth2
  • Delivering large scale, resilient and secure integration projects
  • responsible the delivery of citizenfacing Government services, passing beta service assessments and using the GDS Service Standard (list examples where youre responsible for delivery and provided staff in all roles)
  • Demonstrable experience creating back-office systems used to process applications for complex Government services.
  • Demonstrable experience delivering data projects such as data platforms, data migration, data quality and business intelligence.
  • Demonstrable experience building capability in Government client organisations and leaving a self-sufficient, sustainable internal capability
Nice-to-have skills and experience
Experience of working on products similar to the Help to Buy equity loan (eg. the housing sector or loan products)

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Work History: including experience of the essential and nice to have skills and experience detailed in stage
  • Approach and methodology, including experience of the essential and nice to have skills and experience detailed in stage
  • Team structure and resourcing models, including ability to meet resourcing levels, CV’s of key people who will work with us & experience of working together and alongside client teams
  • Case studies and references. We will follow up on all references given during evaluation so contact must be clear
Cultural fit criteria
  • Your experience working effectively as part of a remote first team primarily using tools such as Office365, Microsoft Teams, Miro, Trello & Jira
  • Your experience working effectively in a blended team, maintaining accountability over the delivery of the outcome whilst the client provides key roles such as product managers and subject matter experts
  • How you ensure commitment to the quality of the deliverables, outcomes and people and ability to rapidly identify/ remedy / replace if an issue occurs
  • Your method for measuring and maintaining speed of delivery, including your approach to supporting the drafting of SoW’s that capture clear deliverables, taking accountability for achieving these deliverables
Payment approach
Fixed price
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Which Supplier did the Discovery phase?
Gulp digital
2. Which Supplier did the Alpha phase?
Gulp digital
3. Could you please share any slides or Q&A from the early market engagement event?
Please email for access to these documents.
4. Could the Authority confirm wether the below roles are expected from the supplier to be part of the delivery team?

Service Manager


Product Management

Service Design

User Research

Technical Architect

Content Design

Performance Analysis

User support
These are roles that will sit in the Help to Buy leadership team (eg. a lead user researcher, a lead delivery manager). There will be a handful of teams in the Help to Buy workstream. Each one will be led by a product manager who will be provided by Homes England. The supplier will provide the delivery manager plus any other roles needed to deliver the outcome.
5. Would help to buy consider a technology stack other than Microsoft for this project?
No. We must use our approved tech stack.
6. 1. Who’s in the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?

2. Who is on the panel?
Gulp digital worked with us through Discovery and Alpha. They have been working with us since November 2019.

The panel is: Steve Railton, Alan Wright, Anagha Clarkson
7. Could The Authority share the Discovery Report?
Please email for access to these documents.
8. The start date listed in the opportunity is incorrect. it should read 14th September 2020.
The start date listed in the opportunity is incorrect. it should read 14th September 2020.
9. Who from your team will be scoring applications for this opportunity and what positions do they hold at Homes England?
Steve Railton, AD Organisational Transformation

Anagha Clarkson, Head of Development, Digital

Alan Wright, Lead Delivery Manager Help to Buy
10. Are you working with any existing suppliers in relation to this tender opportunity? If you are, who are they?
This is a new opportunity.
11. You mention 2 week sprints, what is your current delivery methodology, what ceremonies do you conduct, and are there any areas you’d like to improve?
The teams are using modified versions of SCRUM that they have evolved through their own retrospectives. Teams run retrospetives, planning sessions, standups and show & tells. All of the above should be continuously improved by the teams
12. Has the service gone through an assessment previously and failed or is this service yet to go through an assessment? If it did fail, can the assessment outcomes report be shared with suppliers at this stage?
One of our product teams (I want to apply for an equity loan) will go to alpha assessment in July.
13. If Homes England aim to provide Delivery Managers, how will successful suppliers ensure that they have autonomy to deliver?
Homes England will provide a lead delivery manager. Each product team will have a delivery manager from the supplier team.
14. How experienced is your internal delivery team? Are they new to the roles you’ve listed or do they require some support from the successful supplier to help them mature in their roles?
Members of the leadership team are experienced in their roles. Some of the people on the individual product teams might require support from the supplier to develop in their roles. This support will be factored in to statements of work
15. Is agile coaching required to support existing internal teams?
Some existing internal staff on the product teams will require support adopting agile ways of working.
16. How experienced are your Product Managers? Are they new to the role or have they successfully delivered products previously?
Some will be experienced product managers who will be new to Homes England. Others will be people from Homes England who are new to product management
17. Of the roles you’ve listed (“Service Manager”, etc), how many people do you have in these roles? Will the supplier need to supplement these teams with additional specialists in these areas?
We have 1 person in post for each of the roles we have listed. They are all members of our leadership team (eg. lead product manager, lead delivery manager, lead user researcher, etc). The product teams sit under the leadership team. Each of those product teams will have a product manager from homes england (plus maybe some other roles), a delivery manager from the supplier, and any other roles the supplier needs to provide to deliver the outcome.
18. What does the current technical architecture look like? Can you provide any technical drawings or documentation?
suppliers should refer to the information included in the slides presented as part of the supplier/market engagement.

if you do not have a copy of these slides please email
19. What current capability building activities are you undertaking? What’s working and what could do with some improvement?
We have only just started with capability building activities so it is too early to tell what is working and not working. We are setting up communities of practice and embedding staff in supplier teams with capability building as a supplier outcome.
20. You mention you’d “like a London base from where we can workshop”, do you mean that the supplier should provide this/you’d like to use your own offices as a workshop space?
The expectation is that the supplier should be able to provide this
21. The 2 days face-to-face you mention, is this intended for existing ceremonies? If so, what are they and why do you need them to be face-to-face?
For the start of this contract, we will continue working remote first. We value face to face collaboration. As and when lockdown restrictions lift, we would like for our teams to have some regular face to face collaboration time. 2 days per sprint gives each team time to figure out how best to use this time.
22. Can you please confirm does the term “citizen facing Government services” refer to digital and/or multi-channel services?
Yes. Both.
23. Question 2 asks for demonstrable experience of Microsoft Technologies Azure cloud platform, Dynamics 365,.NET Core and Angular. For each of these, could you please tell us whether it is an existing/legacy technology and/or a target technology?
All of those technologies mentioned are part of our new architecture vision and developer tech stack. Dynamics 365 is currently our tactical CRM solution and a strategic solution regarding CRM is pending.
24. What additional terms, or amendments, will you be making to the call-off contract?
there will be included points around multidisciplinary teams, culture and contract management.
25. Any expenses shall be submitted in line with DfT standard T&S policy” – is this correct?
travel will be agreed with delivery teams and booked in line Homes England's travel policy.
26. Are suppliers to focus their evidence on the delivery of the user-experience component or all the elements of “citizen facing Government services”?
Focus on every aspect of building a service needed to pass the service assessment. This question is intended to help us find a supplier who has extensive experience of passing service assessments and building services that meet the service standard.
27. What roles are you expecting suppliers to provide? Are you expecting all these roles to be full time for the duration of the project?
Each of those product teams will have a product manager from homes england (plus maybe some other roles), a delivery manager from the supplier, and any other roles from a service team the supplier needs to provide to deliver the outcome We expect most roles to be full time because of the difficulties inherent in running a cross functional team with some part time members.
28. Are you able to recruit and provide access to users for the purpose of further user research and engagement?
We should be. But we would like to retain the option of recruiting users via this supplier.
29. Do you have any preference between public sector or private sector examples? Or will both be treated equally as long as they are relevant to the question?
Preference is for examples that most relate to Help to Buy. So public sector examples that meet service standard are better.
30. Please can you share a procurement timetable outlining steps (which would typically include evidence response evaluation, shortlisting of suppliers for next stage, preparation of supplier proposals, evaluation of supplier proposals, announcement of successful supplier, contract completion, contract signatures, commence work), bearing in mind the dates published on the contract notice include latest start date 31st August 2020?
closing date for applications: 10th July 2020
Shortlisting complete by: 14th July 2020
Shortlisted supplier response by: 28th July 2020
Supplier Interviews by 31st July 2020
Evaluation complete by: 5th August 2020
Award by: 7th August 2020
Work start: 14th September 2020
31. Is it permissible to provide more than one example where required to fully address the question?
Yes. Multiple examples would be better.
32. In our experience, GDS Beta Assessment is normally arranged by the “Product Owner/Service Manager” who then engages with GDS to pass the Beta service assessment (particularly so service supporting a GOV.UK Transaction). This role is normally held by a responsible officer of the authority (unless the entire service is outsourced end-to-end) to a managed service provider. Can you clarify if you are seeking a ‘managed services provider’ or a ‘delivery partner’ to help build and support services, as Essential Q.5 seems to intimate the forma?
We are looking for a delivery partner with extensive experience delivering citizen facing Government services, passing beta service assessments and using the GDS Service Standard
33. Should bullet points four and five under "essential skills and experience" be joined up as a single requirement, or are these two distinct requirements?
They are two distinct requirements.
34. Could you please confirm if you are willing to accept joint bids from partners and if you require these to be declared at this initial 100-word stage?
We are happy to receive joint bids. Joint bids should submitted as one bid with it made clear that it is a joint submission.
35. Will the system take payments, store, or manage card holder information, or will that be the domain of the loan administration system being procured?
we have not decided on this yet and the options will be explored along with the account facilities
36. Will Homes England provide access to users, or will the supplier need to identify relevant sample users?
Homes England will aim to provide users. But the supplier may also need to identify, recruit and identify users. Please put a price for this in your rate card.
37. Do you expect indicative user recruitment and incentive costs to be priced within in the proposal, or to be passed on as 'materials'?
closing date for applications: 10th July 2020
Shortlisting complete by: 14th July 2020
Shortlisted supplier response by: 28th July 2020
Supplier Interviews by 31st July 2020
Evalution complete by: 5th August 2020
Award by: 7th August 2020
Work start: 14th September 2020
38. Is the anticipated budget 4m per year, or staged (e.g. 6m+2m or 5m+3m) to allow for front-loading?
This has not been decided yet
39. Is the anticipated budget exclusive or inclusive of VAT?
excluding VAT however this is the max budget and we are looking at VFM
40. How will price evaluation be calculated?
This is in the procurement docs
41. Can you provide an indication of initial demand and ramp-up of people envisaged over the course of this contract please?
This has not been decided yet
42. Can you clarify in question 1, what is meant by 'live' does this mean services which are in public beta with legacy service decommissioned? Or services which have passed a 'live' gds service assessment?
At minimum, we mean services which are in public beta with legacy service decommissioned.
43. For requirements that specify multiple tools/technologies (e.g. requirement 2), are suppliers permitted to reference more than one example of work?
Yes. Multiple examples would be better.
44. Has Alpha outputted a plan for Beta which indicates the roles a supplier should provide for Beta? If so, which roles?
Planning for beta is underway. The initial work packages are likely to require design, delivery management, user research, front / back end development.
45. You refer to "extensive data quality issues". To what degree will the new service be reliant on this historic data?
We have started a separate HtB Data project that aims to resolve data quality issues for use across the wider HtB programme
46. If the new service will be reliant on existing historic data, can you please describe these different data sources at a high level (specifically: quantity of data sources, data formats, and how often data sources update eg. weekly batch or near real time)?
We have started a separate HtB Data project that aims to resolve data quality issues for use across the wider HtB programme
47. An incumbent supplier undertook Discovery and Alpha. Is there any reason to think that there may be merit in considering an alternative supplier for Beta? If so what sort of reasons exist?
Beta is a different phase requiring a different set of capabilities. It is prudent for a client to consider switching delivery partner between alpha and beta as it could potentially allow for a better commercial deal and improved quality of delivery.
48. Has the Alpha outputted a delivery roadmap and duration for Beta? If so please describe this at a high level?
At a high level, the aim is to have built a new application processing system for the loan application journey by December 2021. By this date we should also have moved our data onto a new data platform.
49. Your wider programme has many workstreams. Will the Beta phase be impacted by any dependencies between workstreams or key dates? If so, please describe these.
The Help to Buy workstream is heavily dependent on our data and tech enablers workstreams. Homes England aspires toward a modular architecture where components are reused across different services in the business. Help to Buy will be reusing many of the components built by the data and tech enablers workstreams.
50. There are "extensive data quality issues", is this project directly responsible for improving the quality issues with historic data?
Not for the first set of work packages. Potentially this supplier will become more involved in this area in future work packaed later in 2020 / early in 2021.
51. Where requirement 5 states "list examples where you’re responsible for delivery and provided staff in all roles" – does this mean suppliers cannot use an example where the client also provided roles, or does it mean suppliers should use an example where they provided all roles specified as needed by Homes England under the DOS ad?
List examples only where the supplier has provided design, delivery management, user research, front / back end development & content design roles.
52. Are you expecting a single fixed price for all this work, or are you expecting us to work with you and define packages of work that will then be fixed price?
We are expecting you to work with us and define packages of work that will then be delivered at a fixed price
53. For requirement 1, where suppliers are required to reference transformations delivered "with multiple (3+) cross functional agile teams" – does this mean three teams provided solely by the supplier, or can it be a mix of supplier/client/other vendors etc?
That should be 3+ teams with the supplier providing the vast majority of roles on each team
The deadline for asking questions about this opportunity was Friday 3 July 2020.