Land Registry orders business customers online

Land Registry, the agency responsible for securing property titles in England and Wales is proposing to stop offering services by telephone as part of a move online. Most users of its telephone ordering service are solicitors.

A consultation document published last week says that only 2% of available services are now ordered by telephone compared with 87% online and 11% by post and the telephone service "will soon be running at a financial loss".

The equivalent of the 6.6 full time staff who currently provide telephone services would continue working for Land Registry on their other duties, the Registry said.

However abolishing the telephone offering will need changes to legislation. Malcolm Dawson, chief Land Registrar, said. "It's clear that the vast majority of our customers want to access these services electronically and, as a result, the telephone service is no longer sustainable. We need to amend the Land Charges legislation to ensure we can continue to provide relevant and cost effective services to our customers."

If the proposals are confirmed the changes are expected to be implemented by the end of 2012.

The move reflects a new enthusiasm for forcing business transactions with government into cheaper online channels. Last month, virtually all businesses have been required to file VAT returns electronically.