Hey, I might not work there any more, but people still occassionally come here looking for Land Registry news, so it seems fitting to mention this. Word has reached me that this email has just been issued to all (remaining!) staff:
… I am writing to inform you all that the Cabinet Office has today made an announcement on the review of Arm’s Length Bodies.
Using the criteria of the review, Ministers have decided Land Registry should continue as a function. The Cabinet Office announcement refers to Land Registry as:
HM Land Registry Retain (Transparency) – but MoJ is undertaking a feasibility study to scope out the opportunities presented by private sector investment Retain and Substantially Reform
The reference to ‘transparency’ relates to us ‘acting independently to establish facts’, which is the criterion under which our function has been retained.
As part of the review Ministers are also required to consider the following additional factors that may have an impact on Land Registry:
- Cost, efficiency and the need for savings, including alignment with Budget and Spending Review requirements
- Whether the function performed by a public body could be better performed at a local level, or through non-state means
- The impact of changes on the government’s policy objectives.
In addition, Ministers asked officials to explore opportunities for further private sector involvement to meet the medium to long term aims for Land Registry as set out in the Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) report in November 2009.
To assist final decisions on the additional criteria, Ministers have asked officials in Ministry of Justice to conduct a feasibility study regarding Land Registry.
The feasibility study will in particular consider whether the private sector should play a greater role in the delivery of Land Registry services, and if so how. A number of options will be considered, ranging from greater private sector involvement in our commercial activities to full or partial privatisation of Land Registry. The ‘Retain and Substantially Reform’ status referred to in the announcement recognises further involvement with the private sector would require us to substantially reform our governance structures.
Senior Land Registry staff will be assisting the Ministry of Justice with the study, which is due to begin this month with the outcome to be announced in the New Year. The study will also employ specialist external assistance.
I understand that this is a difficult message and will be unsettling for many of you. We are currently going through the changes from the Accelarated Transformation Programme (ATP,) and this feasibility study will create more uncertainty. I want to make it clear that nothing has been decided yet since it is feasibility study at this stage.
The Board and I are still committed to the changes under ATP, which we believe are right for the organisation. We are continuing to implement our new office structures and develop our customer strategy and vision and values, with the view to communicate these early in the New Year. These changes are essential to create a sustainable organisation for the future, regardless of the outcome of the feasibility study.
As we hear more about the outcome of the feasibility study, we will keep you informed.
Your managers are arranging Q&A sessions locally, although we have limited information at this stage. I am afraid that there are many questions you will have that we simply cannot answer yet.
Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive,
HM Land Registry
Needless to say I’m no longer hearing about all developments (and, to be frank, I’m not all that interested) so I can’t promise to tell you what happens next. Just glad I’m out.
Actually, there was another development last week I didn’t mention: The sale of Land Registry Headquarters building was agreed. London School of Economics are buying it for £37.5 million. Read the press release here.