I have received a large number of emails regarding the Government’s proposals to move Land Registry operations to the private sector from 2017.
As I am sure you are aware, the Government launched a consultation on these proposals on 24 March 2016. The consultation closed on 26 May 2016. The Government announced its plans during the Autumn Statement in November 2015, as part of its wider aim of securing £5 billion of corporate and financial asset sales by 2020.
During the last Parliament, in 2014, the Coalition Government consulted on similar proposals but abandoned its plans. Only 5% of respondents to the Coalition Government’s consultation thought that privatisation would boost efficiency and effectiveness.
Despite deciding against privatisation only two years ago, the current Government is again planning to sell off the Land Registry.
I share the concerns about the current Government’s proposals, particularly from Trade Unions such as PCS. I am also aware that over 208,000 people have signed a 38 Degrees petition calling for the Government to drop its plans for selling off the Land Registry. This demonstrates the strength of opposition to the Government’s proposals.
Land Registry returns millions of pounds in profits to taxpayers. Indeed, in 2012/13, it made a surplus of almost £100 million. It is also the case that Land Registry regularly receives a customer satisfaction rate of well over 90%.
I believe that privatisation of the Land Registry is unnecessary, un-evidenced and unwanted. I am also concerned that this short-term privatisation will have long-term consequences. For example, I believe it could undermine confidence in Land Registry data, jeopardise the service to homebuyers, and erode conditions for staff. I believe the Government is seeking to privatise the profits of the Land Registry, while retaining the risk.
More widely, in the context of other measure announced in the Autumn Statement and the March 2016 Budget, I am concerned that the Government is selling off profitable state assets for a short-term gain.
While we must await the outcome of the consultation, I hope that the Government will listen to the concerns that have been raised about its proposals to privatise the Land Registry,