The Cabinet Office has announced that 18 more local authorities are to join a pilot that aims to shave £20m off the cost of keeping electoral registers up to date.
Pilot aims to reduce the costs of keeping the electoral roll up to date by making better use of councils’ data – Photo credit: PA
Local authorities are required to carry out the canvass once a year, which costs £65m to conduct nationally.
At the moment it is done with canvass forms and house visits to ensure residents’ information is accurate, but this is a time-consuming and costly process, with councils formed to focus resources on chasing households where no information has changed.
Last month, Birmingham City Council revealed it was one of three councils involved in a pilot that would help it target only voters who need to re-register by making better use of data that it already holds.
Robert Connelly, head of electoral services at the council said at the time that it was looking at ways of “streamlining the registration system in order to provide efficiencies and value for money while ensuring that citizens can easily register and vote”.
Now, the Cabinet Office – which is funding the pilot – has announced a further 18 councils that are joining the scheme, which it says could generate cost savings of up to £20m a year if they are rolled out nationally.
The Cabinet Office said the councils – which include Salford, Camden, Derbyshire Dales, East Devon, Luton, Sunderland and Woking – had been chosen to reflect a range of geographical regions, levels of population movement and different IT suppliers.
They will be testing four different models of canvassing, including existing methods, as well as letters, email and phone.
Chris Skidmore, minister for the constitution said that the government needed to take advantage of new and emerging technologies to improve the process.
“We have already brought in huge changes to our electoral system with the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration and now, through these pilots, we are continuing to update and improve the system,” he said.