HM Land Registry
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Land Registry announces five year transformation programme

Land Registry is today, 22 October 2009, announcing a five-year programme of reorganisation and transformation that will cut its costs significantly and put it in the best possible position to deliver the services its customers demand. The proposals announced today relate to the first phase of the programme.

The changes will help create a Land Registry that is fit for the future, that can live within its means and that can continue to provide an outstanding service to its customers. Having looked at a range of possibilities, it is proposing to close five local offices and to reduce staff numbers to reflect the move to more online services and the impact of internal efficiency measures. It also intends to embark on a programme of outsourcing some of its support functions and to further decrease outgoings by selling surplus property. These changes will together reduce operating costs by about £92m per year, saving some £493m net over ten years, and allow Land Registry to respond faster and more efficiently to future fluctuations in the market.

Land Registry plans to develop additional services which will bring in extra gross revenue estimated at £30m per year by 2014. Land Registry is also, today, launching a public consultation focusing on the proposals to close five local offices. In addition it will carry out a formal consultation with staff and their trade union representatives.

Peter Collis, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive said:

“These proposals were not arrived at easily. The transition will be painful but we believe the proposals are necessary to build a sustainable Land Registry. We value our loyal and dedicated staff and will do whatever we can to lessen the impact this will have on some of them. Unfortunately, we believe some compulsory redundancies are unavoidable if the proposals announced today are confirmed.

“The collapse in the housing market last year had a serious and significant effect on our work and income and we lost nearly £130m. Despite the steps we have already taken to cut costs, we will make another loss this year. These proposals will allow us to make far better use of our buildings and to create significant efficiency savings. The reshaped Land Registry that will emerge over the next few years will serve its customers even better than before.

“Land Registry makes no call on taxpayers’ money and pays a yearly dividend to the Treasury. The implementation of these proposals would also allow Land Registry to start reducing its fees in 2011/12.”

The main proposals for the first phase through to 2011 are:

* to reduce total staff numbers by 1,500 people, from about 6,500 to 5,000 by September 2011
* to close five of its 17 offices: Croydon and Portsmouth offices will close by the end of February 2011 and Tunbridge Wells, Stevenage and Peterborough offices by September 2011 when the estate will be reviewed again
* to review Land Registry owned property in Plymouth, with a view to using one building to house both Land Registry’s Information Systems function and its local office in Plymouth
* to sell its London Head Office, to move to smaller leased accommodation in central London and to carry out a review of future Head Office needs
* to reduce the number of clerical staff performing operational roles from around 600 to about 125
* to outsource some of its functions including facilities management and file stores and to investigate the possibility of using other government departments to deliver some of its other support functions.



Notes to editors

1. The programme was also announced in a written ministerial statement today by the Rt Hon Michael Wills, MP, Minister of State, in the House of Commons and by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Lord Bach, in the House of Lords.

2. Over 1100 people work at the offices proposed for closure in Croydon, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Stevenage and Tunbridge Wells. This and their functions are broken down below. All areas of responsibility within these offices will be moved to other Land Registry offices.

a. Croydon Office currently employs around 150 people and is responsible for the land registration of eight London Boroughs.
b. Peterborough Office currently employs around 300 people and is responsible for the land registration of areas of Essex, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.
c. Portsmouth Office currently employs just over 200 people and is responsible for the land registration of areas of East and West Sussex, Havant , East Hampshire and Mid Sussex, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
d. Stevenage Office currently employs almost 300 people and is responsible for the land registration of seven London Boroughs, the City of London, St Albans, Stevenage and areas of Hertfordshire.
e. Tunbridge Wells Office currently employs almost 200 people and is responsible for the land registration of areas of Kent.

3. Over 1800 staff have left Land Registry since June 2008 when the rationalisation of its estate began. These have mainly been through a programme of voluntary redundancies, early retirements and transfers to other government departments. To date there have been no compulsory redundancies. Land Registry currently has around 6500 members of staff. Land Registry lost £130m in 2008/9 which included reorganisation and restructuring costs of £50m. This year Land Registry projects a £61m loss which includes £38m reorganisation and restructuring costs.

4. The results of Land Registry customer satisfaction telephone interviews show extremely positive ratings with 97 per cent rating its overall service as excellent, very good or good. Ninety per cent rated Land Registry on overall value for money as excellent, very good or good and 82 per cent agreed strongly with the statement that Land Registry is a professional, efficient and courteous public service.

5. In May 2006, following a full review of its estate, Land Registry announced a planned reduction in the number of local offices it operates. The reduction has taken place over a period of years and includes the closure of the Harrow and York offices in 2010. In Birkenhead, Durham, Lytham St Annes, and Nottingham, Land Registry had two offices and these have merged. Land Registry also has two offices in Swansea and these will be merging in 2010.

6. Land Registry has 17 offices and two sub-offices in England and Wales, a London-based Head Office and two buildings in Plymouth responsible for land registration services, land charges and agricultural credits and IT systems.

7. With the largest transactional database of its kind detailing over 22 million titles, Land Registry underpins the economy by safeguarding ownership of many billions of pounds worth of property.

8. As a government department established in 1862, executive agency and trading fund responsible to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Land Registry keeps and maintains the Land Register for England and Wales. The Land Register has been an open document since 1990.

9. For further information about Land Registry, please visit www.landregistry.gov.uk 


Contacts:


Land Registry Press Office


Phone: 020 7166 4215

Email: nds.landregistry@coi.gsi.gov.uk 

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