Central Manchester wiped out
In October, Labour MP Stella Creasey MP convened a Parliamentary debate on the status of IVR. Registration rates in some constituencies with a high transient population, MPs heard, were at a record low. Student-heavy Manchester Central had a registration rate of just two per cent. In February, Parliament heard that 7.5m voters were missing.
In fact, meltdown was averted only by the Cabinet Office bending its own rules and keeping an analogue option open. If you can show proof of address, and that hasn’t changed, you should get on the electoral roll. Yet that small change still leaves many disenfranchised.
The Cabinet Office, which expanded during the New Labour era and is now a vehicle for the fads of the Prime Minister’s advisors, ranks as the most secretive Whitehall department - and the one least responsive to transparency requests.
As we reported last month, ignoring warnings is becoming a pattern. You could say the Cabinet Office and GDS, its in-house IT department, have developed a culture of failing to heed warnings of problems, instead passing them on to other departments, agencies and, in this case, cash-strapped local authorities.
But with Labour urging the Government to expand GDS ever faster and wider, nobody today is holding the Cabinet Office to account. ®