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We know that, in the future, the WRA may need to support geographically varied land and property taxes, like the changes to Land Transaction Tax currently being consulted on. We also want to be able to design services that reduce administrative burden on the public and businesses. That means we need to be able to reliably identify land and property at a more granular level than we do currently today.

The aim of the land and property data proof of concept is to look at both of these things: how a data platform might support future services and the types of services that might be possible in the future. But what do we mean by a data platform?

Platforms support multiple services

In short, platforms create value by making it faster and simpler to design better services and meet policy intent. Platforms, by definition, also support multiple services.

While services allow residents and their representatives to achieve some sort of outcome (calculate and pay a tax bill, register a property as a holiday let, or view the tax history of a property), platforms expose the rules and data of government in a standard, machine readable, way that makes building services faster and easier.

Stack diagram showing services built on top of a rules platform and a data platform. Public-facing services allow residents or their representatives to achieve a desired outcome. Open APIs expose the business logic of government. Canonical datasets are used and trusted across government and beyond

Because platforms solve common problems once, they can also enable new types of service. For example, they can enable services that meet the ‘once-only principle’, where data already held by government is reused, with appropriate safeguards, to save users time. Or enable integration with specialist software, like HMRC’s Making Tax Digital platform does. We’ll talk more about services in future blog posts.

Mockups of three examples services: a government property account, a commercial service for renting out a home and a government service for paying tax

Platforms meet the needs of teams designing services

A good platform is more than just a dataset. It needs to be designed with the needs of teams designing services in mind. That means they are well documented, easy to find and stable. The data conforms to open standards and has clear provenance. Ideally a service team should be able to pick up and use a platform unaided.

Mockups of government branded API services for tax zones and checking iof a property is in  Wales

A government branded property and land data API service

Getting better through use

The final characteristic of a data platform is that they get better though use. Data is, essentially, maintained collaboratively as a wider public good.