Northern Ireland’s Land and Property Services agency is to be reviewed, following widespread criticisms of the agency’s performance. It has been blamed by councils for a budget crisis which led to significant service cuts. LPS was formed in 2007 to bring together the Valuation and Land Agency, the Rate Collection Agency, Ordnance Survey (NI) and Land Registers.
Finance minister Nigel Dodds has instructed his Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit to assess the capacity of the agency to meet current and future challenges. “Land and Property Services undertakes a number of key roles, including the collection of rates from domestic and non-domestic properties across Northern Ireland,” said Dodds. “This means that the agency directly engages with all local households and businesses on an annual basis. Given the complexity and scale of the work it is involved in, I believe it is essential that we assure ourselves the agency is structured and managed in a way that is focused on the delivery of its important objectives.”
The Northern Ireland Local Government Association blames LPS for errors in the assessment and collection of domestic and business rates and overestimates of amounts due that led to income shortfalls of up to £80m. The agency was also strongly criticised by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.