We’ve been helping local authorities find efficiencies and minimise delays through several of our commercial data services. With council tax arrears rising to almost £2.4 billion, the need for accurate and definitive data has never been greater.

Local authorities across England and Wales have found our flood risk reports and property index datasets especially helpful. We have also designed a bespoke service exclusively for local authorities which helps them deliver multiple efficiencies. It’s called Ownership Change Indicator and, like many of our digital services, we developed, constructed and tested it in collaboration with the end customer.

Row of houses in London Borough of Sutton

Meeting and exceeding requirements

In 2010 the Revenues department of London Borough of Waltham Forest asked if we could help them speed up the time it took to create council tax accounts. This would allow them to send out council tax bills and collect revenue as quickly as possible. They suggested we could help by providing a monthly list of properties that had changed ownership within their area.

We studied Waltham Forest’s needs in detail and designed Ownership Change Indicator. The service provides the information they need, and goes further – it provides a list of ownership changes over a monthly period and confirms the:

  • date ownership changed hands
  • price paid for the property
  • correct spelling of names and addresses.

What do customers think about the service?

In the subsequent six-month pilot period Waltham Forest found this enhanced data was more valuable than they had anticipated. As well as fulfilling their initial need, they reported other surprising benefits such as:

  • the dataset enabled them to highlight anomalies in their existing data which they were then able to follow up quickly with the Valuation Office
  • the confirmation of correct spellings and completion dates helped them to set up council tax accounts with improved accuracy, helping them to follow up on unpaid accounts.

Twenty-one local authorities across England and Wales now use Ownership Change Indicator and we have received some very positive feedback.

Wendy Gibbs, Revenues Group Manager, Waltham Forest  [We expect to be able to] “bill new residents for council tax at an earlier stage, hold a more accurate database and save money by reducing the number of Land Registry searches we need to make at a later date”.

Alison McGurk, Preston City Council
“We estimate that we have not been advised about the change of ownership for 10 per cent of the properties on each report. Receiving the data so quickly after the change takes place improves our efficiency and puts an end to sending out backdated bills and eliminates the time and expense of following up returned mail.”

This is just one of the examples of how public sector data can bring wider social and economic benefit. Find out more about:

Alternatively, contact our Commercial Services Team.

Jon Parker
By Jon Parker,
Marketing Executive at HM Land Registry