Land Registry announces five-year transformation programme

Land Registry is 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 £92million per year, saving some £493million 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 £30million per year by 2014.

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 £130million. 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:

* Reduce total staff numbers by 1500 people, from about 6500 to 5000 by September 2011;
* 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;
* 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;
* 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;
* Reduce the number of clerical staff performing operational roles from around 600 to about 125;
* 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.

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