Fee review 2020 - Fairer Scotland Duty statement
Our compliance with Fairer Scotland Duty.
Registers of Scotland (RoS) is a Scottish public body and is categorised as a Non-Ministerial Office (NMO). RoS is headed by the Keeper, who is a non-ministerial office-holder in the Scottish Administration and the Chief Executive of RoS. RoS' function is to maintain the public registers for which the Keeper is statutorily responsible and make the information they contain publicly available.
Further information on how RoS operates is set out in its framework document.
RoS’s work is demand-led, in response to activity primarily in the property market. Its work is self-financing and is funded from the fees it charges. RoS revenue is generated from charging fees for both statutory and non-statutory activity. Fees have remained unchanged since 2011, with minor exceptions.
The full financial impact of the measures necessitated by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is not yet known, but RoS’s predictions anticipate that there will be at least some impact on the housing market and therefore RoS’s revenues. Statutory registration fees, largely generated by transfers of property account for approximately 90% of RoS’s revenue. Applications to the Land Register are currently predicted to be up to 35% lower than forecast in our corporate plan for the remainder of the financial year, with other registers similarly affected. Any hiatus in the housing market and its ongoing recovery are not factors that RoS can influence directly.
Compliance with Fairer Scotland duty
Registers of Scotland (RoS) requires to comply with the Fairer Scotland Duty conform to Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010. This places a legal responsibility on RoS to actively consider (“pay due regard to”) how it can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage when making strategic decisions. RoS considers any decision to vary statutory fees to be a strategic decision.
As part of its Fees Review 2020 Consultation, RoS carried out a two-month public consultation, publicising this on our website, our social media channels and contacting directly a wide variety of stakeholders. Committed to tackling inequality at the heart of key decision making, RoS sought the views of a wide variety of stakeholders including representative bodies such as Citizens Advice Scotland and Capability Scotland.
The Fee Review 2020 Consultation sought broadly to preserve the fee structure which has been in place since the Fairer Scotland duty came into force on 1 April 2018. We consider that the decision to preserve the overall structure, whilst varying the amount of the fees charged, represents a new decision.
The fee structure itself demonstrates a commitment to tackling inequality. Registration fees for registering a plot of land or a deed in the Land Register, which comprise the majority of RoS’s income, are charged according to the value of the land or the price paid for the land. These fees rise in 12 tiers or bands depending on the value of the property or the price paid for the land. The lowest value properties (not exceeding £50,000) will pay £80 for registration (previously £60) whereas the highest value properties (in excess of £5,000,000) will pay £8,250 for registration (previously £7,500).
Whilst registration fees could be charged according to the amount of work involved to RoS, using a system that includes fewer tiers, or on a flat rate regardless of the value of the property, we believe that charging for registration according to value is the best way to ensure that registration fees are fair.
Other fees are also rising in order to help return RoS to a cost-neutral position, but these increases are being kept as low as practicable so to reduce the overall impact on those at a socio-economic disadvantage.
Within the overall context of professional fees and services associated with the transfer of property, the proposed increases are relatively small. Registration fees form part of the overall costs of moving home, with consumers also required to pay estate agent fees, solicitor fees, removal fees and other costs.
We are of the view that Registers of Scotland (RoS) has complied with the Fairer Scotland Duty conform to Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010.