Save the Land Registry!

Osborne revives plans to privatise Land Registry as The Great British Sell-Off continues

On Wednesday 25th November, chancellor George Osborne delivered the spending review.

 Comment: Hidden away in the spending review – a plan to sell off Britain’s assets
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 He spoke in parliament for an hour and a half. In all that time he barely mentioned assets. But when you dig down into the spending review documents, assets are mentioned a lot. And it’s all about disposing of them.

Although he didn’t draw attention to it, Osborne’s plans to run a surplus this year rely on his decision to sell off our assets. As the Office for Budget Responsibility puts it: “As in July, asset sales make the difference between debt rising and falling as a share of GDP in 2015-16.”

Land Registry

The spending review announced that the government wants to privatise the Land Registry from 2017. Plans to sell-off the Land Registry by the last coalition government were thwarted in July 2014 after a successful campaign opposing the change from a wide spectrum of interest groups from lawyers, solicitors to land registry staff appeared to persuade the former Business Secretary Vince Cable to do a U turn.

The Land Registry has a 98% customer satisfaction rate, doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny and has returned money to the Treasury in 19 of the last 20 years. If it is privatised, this may threaten its neutrality, drive up the cost of buying a house and the use of its service and force small, local high-street solicitors out of business. 
Sign the Petition against privatisation:

Ordnance Survey

The spending review also reveals plans to “develop options to bring private capital into the Ordnance Survey before 2020”. We don’t know yet if that means an equity sale or new private partnerships. Ordnance Survey makes £32 million profit a year for the public purse. Its data has saved the government tens of
millions of pounds, and underpins an estimated £100 billion of the UK economy.

Ordnance Survey is a much-loved public institution at the cutting edge of data technology and it needs to stay that way.


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If you’ve ever bought a house, it was the Land Registry that documented your ownership rights. The Land Registry has been recording the ownership of land and property in England and Wales since 1862. It doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny and has returned money to the Treasury in 19 of the last 20 years, while continuing to reduce its fees.

The Land Registry has more than 24 million titles providing proof of ownership. Easy-to-read documents explaining the paper title deeds are also provided. This makes life easier and simpler for everyone involved in buying and selling property. Independent civil servants make sure every entry on the register is correct. They also produce data on house prices and transactions which is used by the government to make policy decisions.

The Land Registry has a 98% customer satisfaction rate. Last year it made £8.5 million profit for the public purse. It gave nearly £100 million back to the government in 2013. The Land Registry underpins the guarantee of title of £3 trillion of property.

It shares experience in developing a world class land registration system with other countries. The Land Registry has consistently been spoken about as being at risk of privatisation. Last year it was close to being privatised but the sale was vetoed by Vince Cable, after a campaign by a range of groups, including high street lawyers and solicitors who use the Land Registry the most. 

But while that campaign was successful there is reason to believe it will once again be considered once the government has sold financial assets like RBS and Lloyds. George Osborne united the UK Financial Investments (UKFI) and the Shareholder Executive in a new body called UK Government Investments (UKGI) soon after the general election in May 2015. UKGI is designed solely to sell public assets. 

If the Land Registry is privatised, this may drive up the cost of buying a house, force small, local high-street solicitors out of business and threaten the stability of the housing market. 

George Osborne plans to sell off £31 billion of public assets this year in the largest privatisation ever. His plans don’t include the Land Registry at the moment – let’s make sure they never do. Sign the Top Trumps petition to keep the Land Registry public.

Save the Land Registry!
A united campaign against the proposed plans to privatise the Land Registry

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