Sharon Skinner has worked at Land Registry for 27 years. She is a caseworker – a custodian of the register on the cutting edge of Land Registry’s digital transformation.
Sharon has become an expert at efficiently drawing on and applying her vast land registration knowledge and experience. She encounters new situations and questions every day so she is flexible, able to absorb new information and adapt. These are vital skills when your business is complicated land law, and you are protecting the integrity of a register underpinning £4 trillion of land and property.
This is the first of a four-part series of articles looking at the tasks Sharon completes in a day and the skills and experiences she draws on to complete them. Please be aware the team’s responsibilities may have changed since I first sat with Sharon to write these articles. Other Land Registry offices may organise their teams in other ways.
Sharon works in Customer Team 1 (CT1) in Croydon Office. Croydon Office consists of five teams. CT1 is the ‘front office’. The 25 staff within it have responsibility for:
- handling all phone calls from Croydon Office’s 310 designated professional customers
- answering their emails and letters
- processing their official searches
- processing updates to the register where the application affects six or more titles
- ensuring the public-facing Customer Information Centre at Croydon Office is resourced
- distributing work to the other teams in Croydon Office
- processing casework – entering updates to titles and creating new titles in the register.
The team’s main priorities are:
- dealing with enquiry calls from customers – an electronic phone system allows each caseworker to see a queue of calls on their computer screen, along with how long each caller has been waiting
- processing official searches which are a preliminary service – these have the potential to hold up property transactions. In December 2015, Land Registry completed an average of 98 per cent of preliminary service applications within two days
- responding to customer correspondence within 24 hours.
Once these priorities have been met, individuals in CT1 focus on processing applications to change the register. As Sharon’s team handles all the customer enquiries for Croydon Office, CT2, CT3 and CT4 can focus on processing applications to change the register or on creating new titles. The fifth team in Croydon Office is preparing to train the apprentices and new recruits.
It’s Sharon’s turn to forecast the amount of work the team will expect to complete today. Her team has received 91 new pieces of work this morning. Each piece could be an application to change the register or it could be correspondence from a customer. These could have been sent to us via email (for correspondence), Business e-services or via the post. There are another 649 pieces of work awaiting a response from a customer, or for a notice to expire, before caseworkers can continue processing them. While customers get most applications right first time, roughly one in five applications contain errors that caseworkers spend a lot of time sorting out.
Sharon is working in a lively and vibrant environment. Caseworkers are checking their understanding with each other and letting each other know which pieces of work they are focusing on. As Sharon says, communication is the key to this job and there’s no shortage of it here. The next blog will cover some of the calls and correspondence Sharon worked through in the morning.