Some might say that creating a system to hold a central record of all the Local Land Charges information that is currently held by over 370 different local authorities was an ambitious scheme. Especially for a country whose governments have never been terribly successful at implementing large scale IT systems. People might think back to such wonderful alabaster pachyderms as;
The National Programme for IT (NHS). Supposed to revolutionise the way the national health service worked. It certainly did by costing an estimated £12.7bn instead of the budgeted 6.4bn before it was axed.
The Defence Information Infrastructure (MOD) sounded sensible. Replace the hundreds of different computer systems used by the armed forces with one central one. Budgeted at 2.3bn, estimates now have it at £7.1bn.
The National Identity Scheme (Government). £5bn spent only for it to be abandoned when the government realised the public wouldn't use ID cards.
The Libra System to computerise magistrates Courts. Original bid £146 million. Current spend £400 million.
Of course there have been many government successes in large IT projects. There have to have been. Haven't there?
So when it comes to transferring millions of records from hundreds of different IT systems from over 370 different offices onto one single system, then keeping it updated in real-time from those same offices scattered around the country, there shouldn't be a problem!
And we're not even taking into account the historical data that hasn't even been near a computer. Looks like a problem coming to bite Conveyancers on the rear end sometime soon.
Let's put the IT challenge aside for the moment and have a look at funding. Land Registry will take over the issuing of Local Land Charges searches and have promised a one price fits all, fast turnaround time. So Land Registry will get all the revenue whilst the Local Authorities will still have all of the work of gathering and maintaining the records. Oh, and the additional work of spoon-feeding it to the Land Registry. The Local Authorities will lose a revenue stream and either have to make cut-backs in the Local Land Charges Department, thereby possibly putting delays and errors into the system, or council tax will have to go up to replace the local authorities lost revenue.
Will conveyancers, other property professionals and the public be made to suffer yet again from governments insistence in interfering in the property market or will it all run smoothly this time?
At least they backtracked on the privatisation of the Land Registry, for the time being. We should be grateful for small mercies.
What does anyone else think. Is centralisation of Local Land Charges with the Land Registry a good thing or not?
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