Conveyancers slam Land Registry privatisation plans

In its response to the consultation on the BIS proposals, the CA highlighted the reasons why members were not in favour of the privatisation.

Conveyancers slam Land Registry privatisation plans

The Conveyancing Association has slammed government’s proposals to move the Land Registry to the private sector.

After a “full and frank discussion” at its 28 April management committee meeting on the proposals from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and following a vote, a majority of members voted to oppose.

In its response to the consultation on the BIS proposals, the CA highlighted the reasons why members were not in favour of the privatisation.

These included a belief that privatisation would not be in the best interests of clients, the conveyancing profession or the Land Registry itself, based on a number of reasons including its experience of previous privatisations.

The CA suggested that any assets realised by such a privatisation would be negligible in terms of any attempt to pay down the UK’s deficit – an argument cited in favour of privatisation – which meant this approach would not work from a financial standpoint.

The government has argued that its preferred option – privatisation – would maximise capital return while maintaining high levels of quality and service, and reducing the burden of control.

The CA has suggested in its response that such ambitions would not require privatisation; instead it argue for a potential increase in fees, plus a reversal of the recent halving of fees for electronic registrations which would immediately double the Land Registry’s income yet is a relatively small burden for the homebuyer in amongst the other costs and charges involved in the process.

This new fee structure could be renamed the Land Registration Tax.

The CA has argued that in the long-term this revenue gain would exceed the capital return of realisation of the Land Registry asset with less risk.

The CA also said it lacked confidence in a number of areas, namely how the service manager of any privatised Land Registry would be managed in order to meet key performance indicators, how it would maintain the current services offered, and how it would deliver innovation in its core land registration activities.

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