There are less than three weeks to go until this year’s General Election and for people who have not yet signed up to vote, time has almost run out: the deadline for voter registration is next Monday, 20 April.
If you aren’t yet on the electoral roll at your current address, putting matters right is simple: all you have to do is go to the government website and follow the five-minute sign-up process.
Once you have completed the online application it will be sent to your local council, which may need to verify your ID. This can be done by sending in a document such as a passport or driver’s licence, although in most cases it won’t be necessary.
You need to re-register whenever you move home, and if you aren’t sure whether you are registered at your current address or not, contact your Electoral Registration officer: you can find details by putting your postcode into this site.
Getting yourself on the electoral register with the correct address doesn’t just give you the opportunity to have your say in local and national elections. It can also play an important role in your ability to obtain credit.
When you apply for any sort of loan or finance agreement, prospective lenders will check your bona fides with one of the UK’s three main credit-reference agencies, Callcredit, Equifax and Experian.
The main purpose of this is to make sure you don’t have a history of missing repayments and haven’t been declared bankrupt or had any county court judgments made against you in the last few years.
But the checks are also designed to ensure you are who you claim to be – and that’s where the electoral register comes in.
The agencies use details from the register to confirm address information. If you apply for credit from an address which is different to that on the register, lenders might smell a rat and turn you down.
If you are considering applying for credit in the near future, it is a good idea to check your credit report to make sure it is up to date and doesn’t contain any errors, such as repayments being wrongly recorded as late.
So how do you go about checking your record?
The agencies also offer more comprehensive services which allow you to check what kind of loans you are likely to be eligible for and flag up potential fraudulent activity. Beware, though: after an initial 30-day free trial these typically cost £10-15 a month.
For the last few years, however, Callcredit offshoot Noddle has been offering a free credit report service, which gives you unlimited access to your record. This was originally supposed to operate as a trial but it is still possible to sign up.