The value of the full Electoral Roll (ER) as a democratic tool is for politicians to decide.

What should concern anybody with an interest in data at a UK population level is that removal of the Edited Electoral Roll (EER) from the market would mean that there would no longer be a single, universal and objectively created source of data on all adults.

And yet this is precisely the position faced by the industry as The Walport Committee Report on Data Sharing (July 2008) recommended that the EER should be abolished.

The Government announced a public consultation on this recommendation and stated that the status quo “is not an option”.  The consultation ended on 23 February 2010 and the Government originally said it would publish a response to the consultation in May.  The new Coalition Government has yet to publish its response (as at July 2011).

The EER is an important data source for direct marketers.  It has three main uses:

  • Prospecting: It is a source of accurate, up to date names and addresses for direct mail campaigns. The accuracy of the EER, when used in combination with other lifestyle, demographic and transactional data, allows better targeting of direct mail … with less waste and increased customer satisfaction.
  • Data Verification: As the EER is collected afresh every year, it is invaluable for confirming the accuracy of name and address data collected through other means. This in turn leads to an improved image for direct marketing and reducing the gone-away rate.
  • Universal File for use with Customer Databases: By matching the name and address on the universal file (ER) and a customer file, allows much better targeted communications with customers.

To lose the edited register would have a major impact on the ability of direct marketers and others to maintain, accurate, up-to-date name and address lists.

Alternative sources of data would have to be used but there are none with the coverage or recency of the edited register.

This would increase costs of doing business, increase badly targeted mailings, increase unaddressed mail, increase waste, increase dissatisfaction with direct mail as a medium and reduce the profitability of direct marketing operations.