Registers of Scotland page: the arrear; shared plots; online services

Since acknowledging last June that we were taking steps to address a backlog of work that we had built up, and telling our customers that we would report on progress in addressing it, we have started to see progress.

We have been aiming to stabilise the overall work in hand – what is coming in to be processed, and what is being completed – and this work is beginning to bear fruit. Almost all of our core registration products are stable or will be stable in the next few weeks, with the exception of a small portion of transfers of part (those one-off transfers which don’t form part of a larger development). We are reviewing how we deal with that category of case now.

Stabilising the position completely will allow us to eradicate the arrear in a sustainable way. We want to ensure that, once we have cleared the current backlog of casework, our customers can be reassured that we will be in a position to meet our service standards on an ongoing basis and the backlogs will not return.

As the Keeper explained in a recent meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee, having stabilised the position we think it will take us in the region of 18 months to completely eradicate the arrear. As well as stabilising the position, we have had success bringing in the age of the arrear – as of the end of January, we had 4,595 cases that were older than two years, compared with 12,878 in June last year and we intend that trend to continue. At the same time we remain committed to our position of no rejections, unless legally unavoidable, for cases older than three months – and to our policy of expediting cases where there are reasons to do so.

We are confident that we are making good progress in tackling the arrear, but remain committed to continually reviewing our progress to ensure that we are taking the right measures to deliver the service our customers expect and deserve.

Shared plots

Last month we changed the way that we include the types of land in shared plots on title sheets.

Previously, we treated all areas of land owned in common as shared plots subject to exceptions for transitional applications, and areas which fall within tenement steadings). Following the rollout of our new approach, areas which are essential to the use of the primary plot (such as bin stores, paths and driveways) will be treated as pertinents and included in the primary plot title sheet. Other areas of land owned in common (such as amenity areas) will continue to be treated as shared plots.

This change was one of the many initiatives that we are undertaking to reduce the length of time some applications are taking to be processed. We have been examining areas where we believe that, by making operational and policy changes, we can more efficiently process casework and limit the impact the arrear has on our customers.

We anticipate that these internal changes will be beneficial, as they will result in the inclusion of all ownership information within a single title sheet. We have undertaken user research with a variety of stakeholders, including the Law Society of Scotland, large and small developers, and solicitors, who found the changes to be positive.

Our Knowledge Base has been updated to reflect the changes made and to provide information related to shared plots.

Online services

We have changed the way that some of our online services are laid out on our services portal.

This update has been completed to bring the service in line with Government Digital Services (GDS) best practice, and it also adds valuable improvements to the user journey for our customers.

The changes relate solely to the visual appearance of the portal. In the new homepage, each of these RoS services is shown in the centre of the page, rather than the left hand navigation found in the previous design. This is a key feature of GDS best practice, and is also useful for customers who use a large number of RoS services.

We hope that these changes will improve online services for all of our customers, and your feedback can be sent to communications@ros.gov.uk

Plans reports progress

We are pleased to report that we are now completing over 90% of our plans reports enquiries on the same day – this could previously take up to nine days before our interventions took hold.

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