Privatisation watch – Land Registry

Land_RegistryAfter yesterday’s post on railways, I’ve concluded that the present British Government is again engaged in a scorched-earth policy of selling the remaining state assets to corporate interests in anticipation of losing the next election whilst ensuring, as the Thatcher/Major Governments did before them, that a subsequent Labour Government (if it is to be such) cannot reverse the transfers.

Next on the list – reported today in the Guardian newspaper – is the Land Registry. The land registry is the state body that records ownership of land and its value. It also adjudicates on disputes. Its clients are conveyancers (Law Society) and mortgage providers (Council of Mortgage Lenders).

In terms of financial performance, justification for privatisation is not based on improvement. According to the Guardian, “…it made a surplus of £98.7m in 2012-13, up from £86.1m the previous year, while revenue slipped by 3% to £347m.” Likewise with customer satisfaction, seemingly, very high. This translates into an estimation of its value as £1.225bn.

In order to get round the conflict of interest that may arise from a private company adjudicating on disputes, the Government plans to set up an “Office of the Chief Land Registrar” to manage this part of the portfolio. I’m reassured.

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