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Privatised Land Registry to take on new responsibilities



Registry to be sold as single going concern by 2017 while Crown to retain ownership of databases

A privatised Land Registry could take on responsibility for new public sector registers, the Government has revealed as part of its plan to sell the agency as a going concern.

Under proposals published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills just before the Easter recess, the core land register will remain state owned but the agency itself will be run by a private 'NewCo'. 

The announcement marks the second attempt in two years to transfer the register to the private sector. A previous consultation under the coalition Government proposed splitting the agency into an Office of the Chief Land Registrar and a service company. However, the plan was shelved in 2014 after a wave of protest from users, trade unions and professional bodies. 

Under the new plan the preferred model is to retain Crown ownership of the registry's databases - which include local land charge, bankruptcy records and agricultural credits as well as the core register of title - while the staff and tangible assets would transfer to a private sector operator in which an investor would buy shares. 

Primary legislation

The move would need primary legislation and require the setting up of a new body within the Government to manage the relationship. 

Apart from raising money for the Exchequer, the consultation says that privatisation would hasten the registry’s transition to an all digital organisation - as well as expanding the range of services it offers on a commercial basis. It also proposes that the registry take on additional responsibilities "particularly with respect to other existing, or newly proposed government registers".

Admitting that "this is not the first time consideration has been given to changing the ownership of the Land Registry" the document proposes that the sell-off be achieved from 2017 to reduce uncertainty and avoid "investor fatigue".

The consultation closes on 26 May.




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