I write to support those who have already spoken against the Land Registry sell-off (03.06.16).
The government’s plans effectively enable a single corporate to manage and exploit sensitive (and lucrative) data on the UK’s property market, controlling access to a monopoly service still, importantly, underwritten by a state indemnity.
The registration of property transactions and interests is largely a legal requirement and the transparent, accessible, well-administered Land Registry makes compliance simple. It generates market confidence and faith in UK governance at home and abroad. And, ultimately, its information goes to the heart of countless legal and social issues - property rights, family law, tax evasion and offshore ownership, to name a few.
Providing an artificial injection of profit motivation and shareholder interest is a myopic political decision, not an economic necessity. This deal is expected to take £1.2bn off next year’s bottom line, but the Land Registry actually generates surplus dividend - £19m in 2015 - together with a special £100m boost to the Treasury’s cash reserves. It contributes long-term, sustainable income.
For the Land Registry itself, it seems highly unlikely a corporate focus on margins will generate investment in innovative technology (such as free-to-use MapSearch) or safeguard 4,500 staff members, who act with genuine integrity and professionalism in protecting our interests.
Your piece states the government’s proposals are an ‘if’ but the tenor of its consultation treated privatisation as a foregone conclusion: jeopardising investment in UK plc, undermining Cameron’s own anti-corruption pledge, chipping away at affordable access and wilfully ignoring the voices of nearly 300,000 members of the public who have already made their objection clear.
Clare Harman Clark, senior associate, Russell-Cooke