Fee review 2020 - Foreword from the Keeper
The work that we do at Registers of Scotland (RoS) underpins the property market; supporting citizens, the legal professions and the wider economy. Given the challenges posed by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, our role has arguably never been more important.
Land registration offers state-backed certainty of title to property owners, potential purchasers and lenders, giving businesses confidence to lend against or invest in property and making it quicker and cheaper to transact.
Clearly, there is a cost involved in delivering safe, secure services and launching digital solutions which meet the changing needs of the market. The income we derive is earned from the fees RoS charge for the use of our services. Those fees are based on a cost-recovery model and they remain a relatively small proportion of the overall costs involved in the conveyancing process. The potential for undertaking a fee review has already been highlighted in our 2020-2025 Corporate Plan, as our statutory fees have not been increased on a permanent basis since 2011.
It was clear from our financial forecasts that, at current fee levels, it was not going to be possible for our income to cover our expenses. Our aim is for RoS to operate on a self-sustaining basis, not requiring a drawdown from the Scottish Budget. As such, I believe it is fairer and more sustainable for our income to come from fees paid by those individuals and businesses who are buying and selling property rather than passing the burden to all taxpayers.
RoS are focussed on delivering value for money to our customers and stakeholders. The launch of our Digital Submissions Services, for example, has supported the property market during the Coronavirus crisis and given our customers a fast, efficient and cost-effective solution. We will continue to innovate and work in close partnership with our customers.
Since I joined RoS as Keeper in 2018 I have listened carefully to informal customer feedback on our current fees structure and I hope that the proposed changes reflect some of the key aspects of this feedback.
This consultation on proposals to vary RoS fees is now a formal opportunity for customers to help shape our next steps. I value your input and look forward to hearing your views.
Jennifer Henderson, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland