Annual canvass reform proposals: consultation paper

This policy statement sets out the revised model for the annual canvass which has been drawn up by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Government, and seeks views from all interested parties.

Section 6 - Route 2: the full canvass process

6.1 The Route 2 process

Where an ERO is unable to confirm through data matching that the household composition has not changed, it is proposed that the household will be sent down a full process, Route 2. This will be similar to the current canvass model used for all households. Nationally, we anticipate approximately only a quarter of all households will need to go down the Route 2 process, although this will vary from one area to another. This will deliver significant cost savings and reduce the administrative burden.

Under Route, EROs will still be required to make up to three contacts with a household plus, if required, a mandatory personal contact (this is covered in more detail in the next section). However, we propose to incorporate important reforms from the pilots which, if the ERO decides to use them and has the contact details necessary, will permit different methods of communication, as opposed to paper based forms.

Our proposal is that properties sent down Route 2 will be sent an initial paper contact. As Route 2 is to be used for properties where data matching reveals some doubt about the current household composition, it is important that the ERO makes contact with the occupiers at the property.

In the event of a non-response, the ERO will then be required to send up to two further reminders along with a mandatory personal contact stage. EROs will have discretion over how each reminder is sent, which might be by post, email, SMS text, telephone, in person or electronically through a council account. This will enable the ERO to tailor their reminder stages to the most appropriate for the area and the individuals involved. Our intention is that the reformed canvass will accommodate current, and to the extent possible, future, developments in communications technology. The pilots have shown that a mixture of communication methods is more effective than multiple uses of the same communication method, e.g. some individuals are more likely to respond to a text message than a written letter.

Route 2 workflow

A red match, particularly with DWP data, does not indicate that an elector is definitely not resident at a property. The 2012 data pilots ascertained that the accuracy rating for red matching is substantially lower than for green matching. So, whilst an ERO can be confident that a green match means the elector is still residing in the property, the reverse is not true for a red match. Rather, it indicates a degree of uncertainty about whether the elector is still present. In the case where the red match elector is still there it will be important for an ERO to receive confirmation of this in the form of a no change response. Equally, if the red match is correct and new citizens have moved into the property, or old occupants have left, it will be vital for the ERO to receive this change information. Both scenarios rely on the occupier returning a response to the ERO, and the pilots have shown that a combination of different contact methods can be more effective at gaining a change response.

We invite responses to the following question relating specifically to the proposed process detailed in Section 6.1: The Route 2 process

Question 10

Do you agree with the proposed process for Route 2? YES/NO

Please explain why.

6.2 Personal canvassing

As indicated in the section above, we are minded to continue to mandate a personal canvass. House to house inquiries (door knocking) are known to be highly effective in capturing changes in household composition. Data collected by the Cabinet Office during the 2015 canvass shows that the response rates for house to house inquiries were higher than the initial and first reminder postal HEFs. Equally, data from the canvass pilots shows that household inquiries, delivered with or without a second reminder HEF, captured changes in household composition at a higher rate compared to the second reminder HEF on its own.

At the same time, we also recognise that there are issues associated with household inquiries including: cost and the recruitment and management of canvassers, etc.

We have therefore considered at great length whether house to house inquiries should continue to be a required element in the revised canvass model. We have concluded that they should, albeit in a more flexible form. We propose that where an ERO does not receive the information required in Route 2 of the canvass they should make a personal contact with a member of the household at some stage during the canvass period. This could be via a house to house inquiry as now, or by telephone, where these details are held.

We invite responses to the following question relating specifically to the proposed process detailed in Section 6.2: Personal canvassing.

Question 11

Do you agree that a personal contact (door knock or telephone call) should be a mandatory element of the revised canvass? YES/NO

Please explain why.


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