In November the Land Registry published data openly for the first time on corporate and foreign ownership of property in England and Wales. The millions of rows of information contained many potential stories that are vital to readers concerned with their local area. Using expert data journalism skills and harnessing digital tools, I was able to dig out local stories on the biggest offshore property deals, examining the millions of pounds’ worth of real-estate owned by companies registered overseas. This data is of great public interest as a legal loophole means that, while a UK individual or company will have to pay corporation tax when they make money selling commercial real estate, foreign companies will not. It’s estimated that a third of all commercial properties in the UK are owned by offshore companies – which are typically based in tax havens – and closing the loophole could raise between £5bn and £8bn in tax a year. As well as being shared widely on social media, my investigation was used by MP Stella Creasy as part of her campaign to close the legal loophole that means foreign companies don’t have to pay tax on profits made on commercial property in the UK. Please note that despite the joint byline on some of the pieces, the investigation and copy were completed by me alone before being uploaded in local newsrooms.
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