The mortgage industry will once again be able to access information from the electoral roll later this year, if a new policy passes through Parliament without any glitches.
If the paper goes ahead, it could save both time and money for mortgage lenders, who currently have to make extensive checks to ensure a person is who they say they are. Since November last year, a court ruling stated councils were not allowed to supply electoral roll information to commercial organisations.
Mortgage advisers will also be able to access information and use it for direct marketing purposes.
Rob Clifford, managing director of mortgageforce, said: ‘This will open up opportunities for brokers and might even encourage more to try direct mailing as a marketing mechanism. With today’s technology, this information might also be available online, which again spells good news for brokers.’
The policy paper issued by the Government last week, states the use of electoral roll information should be provided to commercial organisations.
Nick Raynsford, local government minister, said: ‘We have published a policy paper and draft regulations setting out the Government’s intentions for regulations, making provision about access to and the sale and supply of electoral registers. The approach we are adopting strikes a balance between the individual’s right to privacy and the needs of others to receive the data to carry out their functions.’
But Barry Conroy, director of Equifax, said: ‘To a certain extent, it has meant customers have had to provide other proofs of identity, but over the next six to eight weeks the new regulation will be put to Parliament. If they broadly go through as they are, we will have the regulation we should have had 18 months ago.’
Director of Mortgage Talk, Andy Frankish, believes the ruling will be beneficial for mortgage brokers.
He said: ‘We have a lot of delays as a result of lenders chasing identification. From a broker point of view, it should definitely speed up applications as there will be no need to provide additional proof of address. I can only see positive points as a result of this ruling. As the property market is so buoyant, it is important to get offers out quickly and anything to help speed up the process is good.’
According to the policy paper, there will be two separate versions of the electoral register ‘ a full version and an edited version.
Raynsford said: ‘The full register will be available for electoral purposes, for law enforcement and crime prevention and for other purposes where there is a strong public interest in preserving availability. These include checking identity for credit purposes. The edited register will be available for sale to anyone for any purpose.’
He added: ‘Both the policy statement and the draft regulations have been placed on the internet for public comment. Our aim, subject to Parliamentary approval, is for regulation to take effect from the 2002 canvass.’