Sale of Land Registry into private hands comes closer

The official consultation on selling the Land Registry into private hands has now been launched, with anger that it was pushed out just as the Easter bank holiday weekend was beginning.

The timing was reminiscent of the consultation on the 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge, which was sneaked out during the Christmas break.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says that the sale of the Land Registry, likely next year, would allow the Government to pay down debt.

BIS expects that a move into the private sector would allow the Land Registry to become “even more efficient. At the same time it could continue with an appropriate level of service to support the property market”.

The consultation, which runs until May 26, spells out the sheer size of the operation that will be put up for sale – 4,578 staff in 14 offices in England and Wales.

Almost unbelievably, there are now almost two-thirds fewer staff than the 12,000 employed in the 1990s. This massive reduction in headcount has been largely driven by the move from paper to online.

However, says the consultation, with the Government’s commitment to build 1m more homes by 2020, the Land Registry is “at a critical point in its existence” and needs to “further modernize and digitize the services”.

Further investment is also needed to minimise the risk of property registration fraud.

A new private owner could accelerate digital transformation.

While the consultation sets out a number of choices, the Government makes it clear that its preferred option is  to contractually privatise the operation, but with the Crown retaining ownership of the actual Land Register itself.

The Government says this would mean the core functions transferred out of the public sector, but with key safeguards maintained. However, it could raise question marks as to how a new Land Registry owner might make money, when it is also expected to invest.


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  1. Frown Please

    Will this affect zoopla and other online valuation tools then?

    1. easternagent

      I doubt it very much. What will actually happen is that the costs associated with using the service will increase to Zoopla/Rightmove etc., which will then, yet again, be passed on down to the estate agent by way of an increase in our annual subscriptions. Quite simply another tier of management, which is what a private operator would amount to, can only add to the costs to the end user.  I wouldn’t mind if there was a compensating drop in taxes to reflect the fact that we are currently paying for Land Registry through the existing tax system.  I may of course be wrong in that assumption as a privtae company always seems to make things work and a profit where Whitehall fails but at what cost to the end user – us?

  2. AgencyInsider

    Selling off more of the Nation’s family silver. Short term gain, long term pain.

    The spirit of Thatcher lives on.

    1. nbywater

      Silver? Were Selling the Cabinet now!


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