Headlines: October 2nd, 2003

Evidence of the way local government is playing a major role in speeding up the process of buying and selling property has come with the news that the National Land Information Service – the electronic system set up in 2001 – has handled its one millionth online search.Using the system, solicitors can access all the property information they need from councils, Land Registry offices, the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency. It reduces the time taken for a search from weeks to days or even hours compared with the former paper-based system.

John Thornton Director of e-Government at the Improvement and Development Agency said the millionth search was a major milestone in the development of NLIS. The system, he said, was an example of a successful joined-up central and local government service from the IDeA, which has led the way since it was launched in Autumn 2001.

More than 400 local authorities, 24 Land Registry district offices, the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency, process searches for homebuyers across the whole of England and Wales through NLIS. It is a central on-line post box linked to three Internet sites, called NLIS Channels, which solicitors use to purchase and access the search results. The rejection rate for searches historically was around 10%, but through NLIS this has dropped to 1%, as solicitors now have all the correct information they need on-line when requesting searches.