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August 22, 2014

Land Registry risks digital project by ripping up IT contracts

Why questions over IT consultants' tax policies is putting digital transformation at risk.

By Joe Curtis

The Land Registry has terminated two senior IT experts’ contracts, putting the future of its digital transformation project in doubt.

The government body for registering land and property ownership tore up its contracts with both the digital project portfolio director, Richard Lundie-Sadd, and interim CTO Gordon McMullan last Friday.

The Land Registry’s press office told CBR the pair had failed to prove they comply with government policy for civil service staff’s tax statuses.

However, the departures have put the Land Registry’s digital transformation project at risk, with the organisation refusing to confirm whether or not they will be replaced.

Both McMullan and Lundie-Sadd were working on a scheme called LR Connect, the aim of which was to transform the majority of Land Registry services into digital services.

It would cover everything from online land registration services to internal culture change, according to the body’s senior digital marketing manager, Caroline Kyriazis.

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The Government Digital Service (GDS) was helping Land Registry go digital to make property transactions cheaper and easier to do.

With another 25 contractors being investigated over their tax statuses, the project may be in further jeopardy.

But a spokeswoman said: "Not all of these contractors are working on LR Connect, which is in place to deliver our business strategy.

"We are committed to ensuring the success of our business strategy. The strategy is underway and we have the necessary structures in place to deliver it."

The other 25 contractors have until today to prove compliance with tax regulation IR35, which applies to workers paid via an intermediary contractor rather being directly on a company’s payroll.

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