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Young people more likely to use Instagram than vote

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Adults who turned 18 in 2021 and became eligible to vote are more likely to be using social media platforms than to be on the electoral roll, according to new data.

In 2021, 227,087 18-year olds registered on the electoral roll, but three times more are expected to use social media sites at least once a month.

It’s estimated 657,356 18-year olds used Instagram at least once a month in 2021 and the figures were similar for other social media platforms. For Snapchat it’s 617,018, Tiktok 543,066, Facebook 454,173, and Twitter 447,450, according to data from GWI survey.

There are around 717,250 18-year olds in the UK, so just 31% of these joined the electoral roll last year, according to the research from Experian.

Not being on the electoral roll not only means you can’t vote, it can also have a serious impact on your credit score. Some employers also now request that employees are registered on it.

Along with financial services, a range of other organisations also check whether a person is on the electoral roll or not including; insurance, legal and accounting services, as well as some public services.

It’s free to register and you can do it online with your National Insurance number and date of birth.

Young people virtually invisible in the financial system

There are many benefits of being on the electoral roll as it helps organisations, including credit providers, to prove your identity.

It can add around 50 points to your credit score, which providers look at when making a decision over whether to lend to you or not.

As young people often aren’t able to build up a credit history, because they can’t take out a credit card until they turn 18, they often have no financial history. This means if they apply for a credit – be it a credit card, loan, or mortgage – they could be turned down.

John Webb, senior consumer affairs executive at Experian, said: “People who haven’t registered to vote may not realise it’s not just about having your say on election day, it can also benefit you in other ways too. It can help protect your identity and also increase your chances of getting credit. So it’s definitely worth registering as soon as you can.

“Being on the electoral roll is particularly important for younger people looking to access mainstream financial services.

“Many young adults may be in a position where they are virtually invisible to the financial system because there’s not enough information available to lenders about them. Taking this simple step should be seen as essential to start building a credit history from scratch”