Open Data Institute warns of loss of control over land data if Land Registry privatised

Written by Rene Millman on 17 March 2016 in News

Open Data Institute warns of loss of control over land data if Land Registry privatised

Peter Wells, an associate at the Open Data Institute said that he was concerned by the plan to move the Land Registry into the private sector.

"The government will need to be careful not to repeat the costly mistakes that it has made with address data in the past," he said.

In the budget speech yesterday, Chancellor George Osbourne confirmed that the government will consult on options to move the operations of the Land Registry to the private sector.

Wells said that the information that the Land Registry holds about the land we live on, who owns it, what it can be used for, how it might be sold, is "fundamental for the UK".

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"It needs to be as accessible and usable as possible. It is key infrastructure for our economy, particularly given the government's focus on housing," said Wells. He added the ODI would be looking at the consultation and considering its response to it.

"When the UK Government privatised the Royal Mail it lost control of address data. As well as the years of lost benefits, the UK is now having to spend time and money rebuilding address data. It cannot repeat the same mistake with land data," said Wells.

He said that the budget  had "surprisingly little to say" about data and the digital economy. But the ODI welcomed the announcement that the UK Government is providing £5m to explore building an open address register.

"The decision is a testament to work from the whole data community who have long campaigned for UK addresses to be open data and who redoubled their efforts following the privatisation of the Royal Mail in 2013 and to the progress on authoritative registers being made by the Data Programme within Government Digital Service," said Well.

"We're excited to see the challenge of building an open address register taken up by government."

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