The Electoral Register and How It Influences Credit Scores
There are many factors that can affect your credit score and they will vary lender by lender, but there are certain steps you can take that are likely to have a positive impact on the amount of credit you can obtain. Being on the electoral register is one of these steps and is something anyone looking to get a loan, mortgage, a credit card, a mobile phone contract or other financial commitments should know about.
Here’s what the electoral register is, the consequences of not being on it, how to get on the register and how it may affect your credit score.
What is the Electoral Register?
The Electoral Register – otherwise known as the Electoral Roll – is a list of all the names and addresses of people registered to vote in public elections in the UK and Northern Ireland. This includes local, mayoral and national elections, and also means they’re eligible to vote in a referendum.
The register includes your name, address and your electoral number, and is used to establish what constituency you live in.
The main point of the Electoral Roll is to make sure only people who are eligible to vote can do so. However, it’s also used for other purposes, such as in criminal investigations, selecting people to be called for jury duty and, of course, for credit applications.
The full register is published once a year and is updated every month. It’s held by your local electoral registration office, which is within your local council buildings.
There is also an ‘open’ register, also known as the ‘edited’ register, which includes the same information as the main electoral register, but can be bought by a variety of charity and business organisations. It is possible to have your details removed from the open register, but you must either request this or select this option when registering.
Am I on the Electoral Roll?
If you want to check if you are registered on the electoral register you will need to contact your local Electoral Registration Office.
Alternatively, you can enter your postcode into The Electoral Commission’s website and this will help you find your local Electoral Services office. The website should also give you an email you can use to contact the registration office, and they can let you know if you’re registered to vote or not.
Am I able to vote?
The legal age you can register to vote differs by country – in England and Wales you need to be 16 or older. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you need to be 14 and 17 years old respectively.
As well as meeting the minimum age criteria, you must also be
- a British or Irish citizen
- a qualifying Commonwealth citizen that lives in the United Kingdom
- an EU citizen residing in the United Kingdom
You have to be at least 18 years old to cast your vote. However, those living in Scotland have the option of voting in some elections from the age of 16.
If you’re asked to register to vote and you don’t, you could be fined. However, you won’t be fined if you’ve got a good reason for not responding to the request – for example, if you’ve been abroad for a long time, you’ve been in hospital, or if you have an illness which restricts everyday activities.
Research suggests that up to 9 million people who are eligible to vote in the UK aren’t registered on the Electoral Roll correctly. The Electoral Commission found that as many as 9.4 million people were either missing from the register, or not registered at their current address.
The Electoral Reform Society campaigns to get as many people registered to vote as possible and champions the rights of voters.
How to get on the Electoral Register
If you are not sure of your status regarding the electoral register, you can contact your local electoral office.
If you already know that you’re not registered, the process of doing so is quite straightforward. The Gov.uk website has a form that lets you apply to be registered – you will need your National Insurance number and other basic information like your name and address.
Registering on the electoral roll is just one way of potentially helping to improve your credit score, but you should also be vigilant about making payments on time and taking steps to try and keep your financial information safe.
How does the Electoral Roll affect credit scores?
The reason the electoral register may help improve your credit score is because it allows any interested party to confirm that you are who you say you are, and that the details you have provided are accurate.
It is very important that lenders are able to confirm your identity to avoid problems with fraud and identity theft – the more security that lenders have in terms of information, the more confident they are in lending money. Checking you are on the register is actually one of the simplest ways of potentially helping to improve your credit score.
There may be many incidental reasons why you are not registered to vote, from political apathy to moving house frequently. However, the electoral register is one of the most reliable ways of verifying your identity. If you want to ensure that your credit score is an accurate reflection of your financial history, it is important to have your correct details on the electoral register.
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