Local Authorities: Fees and Charges

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the Office of Fair Trading's options for pricing access to local authority search information.

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

The Government accepted the recommendations in the OFT's report, "Property Searches—A Market Study", in a response published in December 2005. The study provided two options for the pricing access to local authority (LA):

(a) that central Government set uniform fees (this could be at a price that reflects the costs of an efficient LA or an average LA or alternatively the fee could be set at zero); or

(b) that LAs set their own fees at a level that covers their costs.

The Government's response stated that they favoured the option of allowing LAs to set their own fees but wanted to ensure it was a valid option before any final decision. This decision would be informed through the collection and analysis of detailed information on all the elements that make up a property search. The consultation paper, "HIP Update: Toward 1 June", published on 25 January, announced that we will seek tenders for the production of a final charging methodology and guidance by independent experts to give a clear basis for taking that decision.

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