Land Registry maintains focus on transformation programme despite a challenging year
Land Registry, the government department responsible for land registration in England and Wales, today (30 June 2011) published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2010/11. The organisation also published its response to the consultation paper E-Conveyancing Secondary Legislation – part 3 which soughtviews on proposals to create electronic transfers complete with electronic signatures and to extend the use of electronic legal charges (a form of mortgage).
Introducing the annual report, Malcolm Dawson, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive said:
"In the past year the property market has continued to contract resulting in our workload decreasing by 13 per cent. Despite this, we have achieved a number of challenging targets including those for speed and accuracy as well as our financial key performance indicators (KPIs). We have also scored some notable successes, not least in the rapid expansion of our network of customer teams providing a dedicated service to business users.
"Under our accelerated transformation programme (ATP), we’ve reduced the average number of staff by 18.7 per cent and we are on track with our estate restructuring. Inevitably the changes have been difficult and painful but we are progressing ahead of the original schedule and will deliver net savings of over £500m. In comparison with last year (£30.1m) and the year before (£130m), we made a loss of £2.9m which demonstrates that the hard decisions we took are now bearing fruit in providing financial stability.
"The percentage of transactions delivered through electronic channels continued to increase with over 70 per cent of lenders using our electronic discharges service and over 85 per cent of preliminary services being delivered through portal. However, as the response to our consultation paper (also published today) shows, customers and stakeholders still have a concern about the use of electronic signatures and transfers.
"After listening to a wide range of people, we are now focusing on electronic lodgement and despatch. We believe this solution whereby customers can use e-channels to send us paper documents, is practical, sensible and in tune with their needs. As a result, we are writing off development expenditure relating to electronic charges, signatures and transfers and making a number of other accounting adjustments in the annual report to better reflect the current status of our services. Over a six year period we have invested £41 million to successfully deliver a suite of e-services including portal, e-security and business gateway. However, following the feedback it is clearly better to halt development of e-transfers now, before significant further sums are expended, than to continue to develop a product we are not confident our customers will use.
"We have missed some targets including the KPIs for overall customer service and employee engagement, which is why they are a particular focus for improvement in the coming year. I want to engage our people more fully in delivering these targets so that we can all look forward to celebrating Land Registry’s 150th anniversary in 2012 with confidence."
Highlights of the year include:
- Customer teams: at the end of 2009/10 we had at least one customer team in every office. Twelve months later we have over 90 and Plymouth Office was the first to convert wholly to customer team working.
- Research and insight: we’ve developed and adopted Net Promoter Score as a new measure of customer satisfaction which will be used in future surveys.
- Diversification: we are exploring the possibility of supplying searches of the Local Land Charges Register and other information currently provided by local authorities.
- Adding value: one of our most successful products has been Property Portfolio Consolidator which supplies landlords with detailed information about their portfolio derived from the Land Register.
- E-services: portal is now the main gateway to our online business e-services with around 12,000 organisations signed up. In March 2011 we received over 1.1m transactions via the portal.
- Electronic communication: Landnet,our customer magazine was converted from a paper to an electronic publication and we’ve also joined Twitter, already achieving, according to Klout.com, "a good size network that is highly engaged".
- Performance & Innovation: a successful pilot to improve productivity and efficiency using Lean principles at Nottingham is now being extended to Gloucester and Weymouth offices.
- Comprehensive Land Register: we exceeded the KPI to add 250,000 hectares through voluntary registration by almost 45,000 hectares.
- Green initiatives: we exceeded targets to reduce carbon emissions (36.5 per cent instead of 12.5 per cent) and increase waste recycling (60 per cent instead of 40 per cent).
- Indemnity: we paid £9.4m for 963 claims compared with £7.8m for 1,011 claims last year.
- Counter-fraud measures: within the overall total, we paid £7.4m for 71 fraud claims compared with £4.9m for 53 claims from the Indemnity Fund last year. However, as a result of our rigorous and ongoing activity to prevent fraud, fewer frauds are now being registered. This year we have expanded our specialist team and rolled out significant IT enhancements to help detect fraud.
- International unit: we drafted the Land Title Registration Bill for the Bermuda Government.
- Diversity: our black and minority ethnic focus group developed a ‘Releasing your Potential’ course which has been extended to staff with disabilities.
- Awards:staff at Plymouth and Information Systems offices won an award from local delivery partner the Shekinah Mission for their volunteering work as job coaches. Our Human Resources team, working closely with Jobcentre Plus and outplacement specialists to offer career and employment advice to staff affected by ATP, had their achievements recognised in the 2010 Civil Service Awards when they won in the Resource Management category and were shortlisted for the overall HR Award.
- Sharing services: TNT UK Ltd will operate our regional file stores from July this year following a decision to join the Ministry of Defence's Pan Government Records Management Framework.
Notes to editors
- Land Registry’s Annual Report and Accounts 2010/11, priced £20.50 is available from www.tsoshop.co.uk Media copies are available from the press office on 0300 0067543. The press notice is also available in Welsh. Please contact the press office for a copy or visit www.cofrestrfatir.gov.uk The English report can be viewed online at www.landregistry.gov.uk/annualreport
- Adjustments have been made to the Accounts to reflect the value of e-conveyancing development expenditure to Land Registry. The bulk of the expenditure (£41 million over a period of six years) has been successfully applied and underpins Land Registry’s current suite of e-services including portal, e-security and business gateway. However, £6.4 million of development costs attributable to electronic charges, signatures and transfers is being written off following customer feedback. Additionally, £4.5m of e-conveyancing expenditure was incurred after the software to support the suite of e-services was successfully brought into service. There is also an adjustment of £1.7m for depreciation that should have been charged in earlier periods. These amounts have been written off too.
- The E-Conveyancing Secondary Legislation – part 3 consultation report is available at www.landregistry.gov.uk/consultations The new proposals would have made it possible, for the first time, to carry out the main conveyancing steps in the sale and purchase of a house electronically instead of using paper documents. The consultation ran from 22 March until 25 June 2010.
- Forty-three responses were received from conveyancers, lenders, financial institutions, regulatory and representative bodies (such as The Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers) and other property professionals.
- A majority of the respondees indicated they were not yet persuaded that e-transfers are desirable or achievable in a time of low property sales and an increased risk of fraud. Significant concern was also expressed that the process for creating and applying an electronic signature was too complicated. The consultation also confirmed that customers did not feel that the e-charge solution met their needs.
- Despite Land Registry receiving its first electronic charge in March 2009, subsequent take-up of the service was disappointing with only some 20 or so charges being created and registered. Because, the e-charge was aimed specifically at the remortgage market, Land Registry’s attempt to encourage customers to adopt the service was hindered by the collapse of that market following the banking crisis.
- 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.
- As a government department established in 1862, executive agency and trading fund responsible to the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Land Registry keeps and maintains the Land Register for England and Wales. The Land Register has been an open document since 1990.
- For further information about Land Registry visit www.landregistry.gov.uk
Marion Shelley 0300 0067543, 07790 690297
Jill Inglis 0300 0067487