In June of this year, berg reported that governmental plans to privatise the Land Registry were gathering momentum. Whilst no decisions had been forthcoming at that time, the rumblings were causing concerns over the impact that the move would have on the housing market.
The sale of the Land Registry was expected to be included in the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill which was put before parliament in mid-September. This was part of a wider plans by former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, to raise £5bn through a number of ‘sell-offs’ by the Treasury. However, it would appear that the plans have been delayed, perhaps even abandoned.
The retreat follows on from a consultation on the Land Registry which closed in May of this year. Consultation aside, it has been difficult to ignore some of the criticisms that have been levied at the potential move which have come from a number of quarters including solicitors, industry experts and the UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority. Furthermore, a petition against the proposal achieved upwards of 300,000 signatures. Robert Bourns, president of the Law Society commented:
“Privatising the Land Registry would create a range of serious risks to the vital piece of national infrastructure, which supports and ensures the integrity of property ownership in this country. All implications must be fully considered before any decision on whether to sell is made”
This is not the first time the issue has come to the fore with previous plans to privatise in 2014 were dropped following the intervention by then business secretary, Vince Cable who has said that “the only rationale behind the proposed sell off was dogma”.
It is difficult to know whether this decision signifies a mere further delay or in fact indicates an abandonment of the idea in its entirety.