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Keeper addresses key issues

16 July 18

Registers of Scotland page: Keeper acknowledges an applications backlog, and outlines action being taken

by Registers of Scotland

The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland, Jennifer Henderson, attended the Law Society of Scotland conveyancing conference at the end of last month. It was fitting that her first official public speaking engagement in Scotland was addressing a key stakeholder group.

Since coming into post, the Keeper has spent considerable time working with colleagues to get a thorough understanding of the registrations process, which of course is a fundamental function at RoS.

Jennifer has also been asking colleagues to bring her up to speed on the issues that our customers care about. These have included the many things that are working for our customers, but she has also been keen to find out about some of the issues that are causing concern and frustration, and she spoke about some of these issues at the conference.

Applications – some figures

Specifically, the Keeper addressed delegates on the subject of our current backlog. RoS handles a huge amount of application data each year, and 2017-18 proved to be another busy year. We successfully completed more than 661,893 applications during the year, an increase of 3.4% on the previous year. There was progress in other areas, such as Keeper-induced registrations, with over 26,000 titles and 63,000 addresses despatched in 2017-18.

For all of our major business activities, we have set service standards which we work to, in order to ensure an efficient and punctual service for our customers. In the majority of cases, we successfully meet our service standards; of the nine areas of activity covered by the standards, applications to six of these hold a 97.4% or higher successful completion rate. Put another way, 91% of work despatched in 2017-18 was completed within 20 working days.

However, we are aware that doesn’t represent the complete picture. In the case of a number of particularly complex application types, we have failed to complete our work within published timescales and now have an arrear. 

Almost 4,000 of the cases we are currently processing have been with us between six and nine months, more than 7,000 between nine and 12 months, and almost 8,000 between 12 and 15 months. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, just over 3,000 cases have been sitting with us for almost two years. Overall, there are almost 40,000 cases that are in arrear. 

New resources, new teams

This is not the standard of service that our customers deserve, and we acknowledge that it is an unacceptable and unsustainable situation. 

The Keeper has made a firm commitment to addressing the backlog, and our teams have worked to develop a plan of action to make real, demonstrable progress in clearing it.

The first step has been recognising that the backlog of work has a significant and frustrating impact on our customers, and that we have been adding to the backlog on a daily basis.

Our Innovation Team has been developing new ways of working that are already delivering results. We have created impact teams that are tackling elements of the backlog, and we are going to scale these impact teams to begin the eradication of the backlog. We have also introduced new processes at the front end of the registration journey, which means we are now processing applications faster.

RoS is an organisation that manages a significant amount of data, and we are harnessing some of that to understand better the shape and complexity of work in the backlog. Rather than tackling applications in an ad hoc way, we are identifying patterns which show types of casework by similarity. This will allow us to direct the casework to the right level of experienced resource for faster processing and economies of scale.

We are also developing new technologies all the time at RoS as we move towards our goal of being a fully digital business by 2020. We will be introducing new technologies in a controlled way over the next few weeks to simplify transaction processing time for both the mapping and textual elements of a registration. 

The Keeper has made a commitment to reporting on our progress on addressing the backlog, and will do this on a monthly basis. We want to provide additional reassurance and transparency on our delivery. Our aim is to achieve the level of service that meets the needs of all of our customers, and of which we can be proud.

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