Outrage at privatisation plans for Land Registry
With the nation currently focused on fallout from the Brexit vote, several controversial issues affecting homeowners are being considered by the government to reduce the national deficit.
It can’t have been easy being George Osborne in 2016 as he’s slowly but surely managed to antagonise every demographic across the entire county while still maintaining his position as chancellor (until yesterday, that is). From NHS cuts, to a controversial budget and a failed campaign to keep the UK in the EU, Osborne has overseen some of the harshest austerity measures imposed in many years, mainly affecting those of lower socio-economic standing.
Since taking the position of Chancellor in 2010, Osborne made it clear that reducing the UK’s debt was his first priority – and to ensure the reduction occurs, he pushed the government to vote on the sale of certain state holdings. One of these holdings, however, is the Land Registry – and despite pleas from MPs of all parties and UK property buying experts to halt its sale, the government is continuing with its plans.
The Land Registry itself has existed in various states for hundreds of years before being formerly consolidated in the 1920s. It is responsible for the documentation of ownership history for every registered property in the country and helps to process fast house sales in exchange for a small fee, and as a result holds a lot of personal data on millions of homeowners.
The sale itself makes very little sense. There are many government departments that fail to provide a profit and so their sale is a little more understandable. But the Land Registry, while costing £261m to run each year, provides a return of £297m from fees collected for its services. Even more worrying are the consequences for the 4,578 staff based in ten offices around the country – all experts in their field who have ensured that the Registry’s efficient service has been maintained for the best part of a century.
For vendors and property buyers alike, for a private company to gain access to their mortgage account numbers amongst other personal details, the privatisation is nothing short of a breach of trust by the government. And while estate agencies and property buying companies continue to voice their opposition to the sale, the future is still unclear. With a 250,000 strong petition from the public and a growing number of MPs voicing their opinion against the Registry’s privatisation, the country can only hope that the government doesn’t rush the motion through parliament, knowing that most people are too preoccupied with the Brexit situation to pay attention.
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