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Automated Land Charges in London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Exemplar Award Winner - Innovation in Delivery Award Winner 2013: London Borough of Tower Hamlets

All councils are under increased pressure to deliver cost savings. This case study examines how the London Borough of Tower Hamlets achieved savings through developing a new electronic tool to support land charges.

The problem

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets was required to make a £70 million saving over a three year period from 2011-2014. This led to all parts of the council being tasked with examining ways to save resources.

In addition, specifically for the land charges team, information requests by agents and clients in general were increasing, as were overhead costs, which were not sustainable.


The Development and Renewal Directorate initiated a proposal to create an Electronic Land Charge Register (ELCR). The ECLR is essentially an electronic tool which facilitates all land charge records. It also re-engineers all processes around the address management infrastructure throughout the Directorate. The project rested on an aspiration that all relevant people would access the system, thereby creating efficiencies both client and corporate side.

The project implementation involved a series of stages including

• reviewing existing records and collating them electronically in a central place; Ordnance Survey’s MasterMap greatly assisted with this work in terms of referencing the records correctly

• creating a registry of polygons for all records

• examining existing workflows

• developing the new tool and workflows

• training staff in the new tool.

The project specifically used address data in the following ways:

• each polygon for each Land Charge registry item was and is directly linked to a basic land and property unit (BLPU) polygon from the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) to ensure address integrity

• every scanned document is indexed to an Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) to assist in retrieval and address integrity

• the project also links to the street naming and numbering workflow

• there are daily updates between the tool and the LLPG

• each polygon is created from a BLPU/s to ensure search area integrity.


The ELCR tool has fundamentally altered the working landscape. All relevant staff now have access to the same electronic records so that queries can be managed smoothly, coupled with more efficient workflows. In addition, efficiencies by moving to electronic data storage have been realised, such as reduced storage costs and time retrieving records and duplicating them.

Quantifiable outcomes:

• cost savings were made directly from the Land charge Team reduction of £115,000 + per year

• electronic registries, reduced request durations and transfer documentation, in addition to reduced duplication, saved an estimated 1,000 + staff hours over a year

• combined savings on direct storage, posting and archiving, and elimination of printing were estimated at £30,000

• moving into a smaller building led to £7 million in savings for the Council

• duration times were slashed; consequently, all targets have been met. Indirect outcomes

• positive change in culture

• roles are now transferrable

• orientation now upon a stream lined address management process across all teams.

The project has championed a large scale service development blueprint that fully embraced e-government ideals under the umbrella of address management and integrated existing technology systems.

Why this project won

I really liked the way this project demonstrates an excellent, holistic approach to transforming the user journey for a Local Land Charge search request. The tension of reducing costs and staff, while improving service, is addressed through strong staff engagement in the change process. The UPRN provides the starting point with live updates being drawn from the LLPG. Over £190,000 p.a. savings, including quantified staffing reductions and other savings, have been achieved, together with “slashing duration times” and improved data accuracy. An excellent example of ‘end to end process transformation’ to meet the users’ needs.

Martin Ferguson, Director of Policy & Research, Socitm and sponsor and judge of the Innovation in Delivery Award

Authority view

“With emphasis upon finding every greater savings, this project expanded upon this strategic need, by developing progressive methods of delivery with only resources that were available. Processes for staff across numerous, previous disjointed, teams were fundamentally altered and channelled around GIS, Address & EMDS concepts to produce a tool that was forced to be flawless; in terms of input data, which was both dynamic & complex, to the final output with the varying demands of external and internal clients.”

—Philip j Price, Senior Business Intelligence Analyst, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

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