What the December 2019 election means for your Credit Report in 2020

Posted by Sam Griffin in Credit Reports on 13 January 2020

The last few years have seen the UK perplexed by peculiar politics, with conversations dominated by polarising Brexit debates, Prime Ministers coming and going, and an increasingly tenuous state of Scotland. The only certainty seems to be the reliable and constant loom of total uncertainty.

2019’s general election was the first December election since 1923, when the UK was still recovering from the chaos of World War 1. It was also the first election in the last 30 years that has taken place in the second half of the year.

While on the surface the date of the election may seem a mild change in the grand scheme of things, the timing has very real implications not just for voters but also highlights how the Electoral Roll affects their ability to get credit.

How and when is Electoral Roll information updated?

To set the stage for exploring how the December election could affect your New Year, we have to look at the Electoral Roll, which is central to the election and your Credit Report.

Every year local authorities across the UK complete the Annual Canvass. The Annual Canvass is a yearly, nationwide process undertaken to update the Electoral Register. It officially starts in July, but most people first notice it when the Household Enquiry forms start flowing through letterboxes in August. Authorities literally canvass their constituents to ensure they have up-to-date Electoral information ahead of the publication of the new yearly register.

What this means for Credit Report is that, while the Annual Canvass is ongoing, any application to be included on the Electoral Roll will be added only once the process is completed. It typically concludes on the first Monday of every December – which meant for 2019, it was completed on 2 December. The completion is dependent on the workload of the local authority, so if your area’s completion was delayed, this will likely be why.

Once completed, your local authority will have sent its Electoral Roll information to each of the Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) - Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Crediva - which in turn upload the data to your Credit Report.

The standard advice for new Electoral Roll entries applies here, which is it often takes a month or two from date of publication for the new listing to be reflected on your Credit Report. Credit Reference Agencies do not perform manual updates of Electoral Roll information until at least one month has passed from the date of publication.

Why is the timing important?

A December election serves to highlight the importance of regularly checking the information that’s held about you as well as demonstrating how it can become outdated.

As Credit Reference Agencies usually finish updating Annual Canvass entries in January, the typical time to next election (using May as the average), would be four months. Within these four months, people may make changes to their Electoral Roll information, such as moving to a new house or changing name, following a marriage for example. This is the perfectly natural progression of life events and understandably affects thousands.

But an often-overlooked priority is that following any change to Electoral Roll information, the local authority must be contacted so the existing entry on the Register can be updated. Failure to do this will mean your Electoral Roll information remains out of date, perhaps registered to the wrong address, and can cause problems when locating the Electoral Roll entry on your Credit Report.

The significance of a December election is that the four-month period we highlighted, where potential changes can occur and stir up trouble, had almost tripled to an eleven-month period. More voters will have had outdated Electoral Roll information in eleven months than in just four, so the proportion of people with incorrect Electoral Roll information in the run up to the election will have been significantly higher.

How did the December 2019 election affect me and my Credit report?

This eleven-month period from January 2019 (when the 2018/19 Annual Canvass was fully completed) to December 2019 (our recent election) is an abnormal amount of time to wait to cast a vote in an election year, inevitably giving rise to outdated Electoral Roll entries.

Correct Electoral Roll information is vital for a healthy Credit Report. As Electoral Roll information is publicly available, any organisation you apply with can check your Electoral Roll records. This includes (and not limited to) potential lenders, utility suppliers, telecommunication providers and even employers and landlords.

Having an active entry is better than having none, as it’s used to assess your stability. The logic being that a 10-year long Electoral Roll listing reflects more stability than no listing at all.

It’s also the hook upon which all the other data on your Credit Report is hung, so if an organisation you’re applying with can’t find your Electoral Roll listing, there may be difficulty finding the rest of your data, which may harm your chances of being accepted.

The deadline to register to vote in the December election was Tuesday 26 November – 12 working days before the election.

The ‘12 working days’ rule applies for those looking to cast their vote, but certainly does not apply to those concerned about their Credit Reports. As discussed above, it typically takes a month or two from when your new Electoral Roll information is published by your local authority before it features on your Credit Report. If you are looking to make an important application, you’ll want to make sure everything is correct a few months in advance, not just 12 working days.

What does this mean for January 2020?

The recent December election and completion of the Annual Canvass means fresh Electoral Roll entries should be populating Credit Reports throughout the UK in January 2020. In theory, this should be the time of the year where the highest proportion of Electoral Roll information is correct, as the data has recently been updated by the Annual Canvass and people have been spurred on by the December election hype.

It also means it’s time to check the Electoral Roll information has been updated correctly. Only by viewing your Credit Report for yourself can you see what potential lenders can see when performing a credit check – if you’re thinking of ‘tidying up your finances’ in the New Year, your Credit Report is the first place to start.

Over the past five years, January saw peak Google searches for ‘consolidation loan’, ‘credit card’, and ‘credit cards to build credit score’. Clearly for many, January is the time to focus on their finances, getting debts under control, and improving their Credit Rating.

Not everyone will find their Electoral Roll listing up-and-running on their Credit Report in January 2020, though. The good news is that if you find that your Electoral Roll listing isn’t showing when you check, you may be able to have the CRA perform a manual update to the information, usually with evidence of your Electoral Roll listing, such as a letter from your local authority.

How do I register on the Electoral Roll?

Even in January, it’s never too late to be added to the Electoral Roll. Thankfully registering on the Electoral Roll, as well as making changes to existing entries, is fairly straightforward – it’s the forgetting to check in the first place that catches people out. All you have to do is contact your local authority to request to be added.

If you have an existing entry but have made a change such as a new address or name, just explain that you’re looking to update your current information.

Every local authority in the UK has its dedicated government website with contact details, so a quick internet search should put you in the right place.

How do I check my Electoral Roll listing?

The only way to check your Electoral Roll records online is by checking your Credit Report. An Electoral Roll entry on a Credit Report will show the registered name, address, date the listing started, and which version of the register it’s found on. Importantly, what you see is exactly what a potential lender (or other organisation) would see should it search for your Electoral Roll information following an application.

As the only provider of Multi Agency Credit Reports in the UK, you can use our service to check your Electoral Roll information with all four Credit Reference Agencies. You can check your Multi Agency Credit Report free for 30 days – then just £14.99 monthly, which you can cancel easily online at any time.

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