Freesteel Blog » Yet another Unique Property Reference Number not the same as all the other ones

Yet another Unique Property Reference Number not the same as all the other ones

Sunday, October 9th, 2011 at 8:41 am Written by:

As part of the deal with the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) to maintain the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) database, Landmark Information Group Ltd was supposed to invent a brand new database of UPRNs (Unique Property Reference Numbers) for every distinct saleable property in the country. An Energy Assessors would need to look up a property on it when filing a certificate. [Click on the image to read the text in place]

This always seemed ridiculous to me. It was 2006 when these contracts were negotiated. How many government institutions in the country were already depending on an exactly equivalent database? There’s the Post office, the Ordnance Survey, the Land Registry, every local authority who is administering the property taxes, the water company, the electric company, the phone company, the BBC license fee collectors, and all parcel couriers and junk mail distributors in the land.

Why build another one?

The explanation is given in footnote 7 of page 29 of the Home Condition Report Register & Associated Services – Services Requirements Specification:

What’s remarkable is that this EPC database procurement was going on at the height of David Blunkett’s Identity Cards rampage. For years his fevered imagination was gripped by the technocratic merits of issuing unique computer processable identity number for every man, woman and child in the country to the extent that he continued to push it against rising unpopularity, mounting impracticality and rapidly inflating costs.

Did it not occur to anyone to notice that there was this related, far easier problem to tackle in the form of the government databases of places where people live? You’d think that one ministerial phone call and the threat of an order based on the PSI Directive would have sorted it out immediately. By now we could now have a totally available system for linking all house data together that would be as efficient as car license plate numbering. But we don’t.

The rest of this Services Requirements Specification document contains much else that is extraordinary. I will mine it for more blog posts in the future.

Update: I can’t keep up. Look at this Cabinet Office page on the BS7666 format.

Then there’s this document explaining to people doing data entry work in Bedforshire how to handle this new-fangled address format in their schools database.

Or you can pay £350 to get someone to teach you about it.


  • 1. Michael replies at 12th October 2011, 12:04 pm :

    another example of…

  • 2. Andrew McLean replies at 16th October 2011, 11:04 am :

    I suspect that the licensing impasse has been resolved by the transfer of the NLPG to a company jointly owned by the Local Government Group and Ordnance Survey

    If there really is a continuing problem, it would e a ral scandal.

  • 3. Freesteel&hellip replies at 31st October 2011, 12:29 pm :

    […] my discovery of two entirely distinct property government databases with their own systems of Unique Property […]

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