About our business plan
Our business plan lasts for one year, from April to March.
It looks at how we’re doing against the goals and priorities in our five year corporate plan, and what we want to do in the year ahead.
This business plan covers the third year of our five year work programme.
Details of our plan for 2021/22
Our plan for 2021-22:
- We will support the upcoming May 2021 polls, working closely with governments and the electoral community to ensure that they are delivered effectively. The electoral system faces significant challenges arising from the complex range of polls which are taking placeand the context of the coronavirus pandemic and associated public health restrictions and guidelines.
- We will continue to provide expert advice and guidance to electoral administrators, candidates and agents, which will include the provision of guidance to support the May 2022 elections. We will continue with our transition towards providing our guidance in a new modern, more accessible format.
- We will continue to work with partners on improving the accessibility of elections so that everyone has equal access to election information and processes.
- We will undertake a voter registration campaign ahead of polls to ensure that those who are eligible to vote do not miss out, particularly in groups which are harder to reach.
- We will continue to support Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) in Great Britain. We will keep under review our advice, guidance and resource materials to support them with maintaining accurate and complete registers throughout the year, ensuring that we reflect the lessons learnt from the first year of the reformed annual canvass.
- We will finalise our performance standards for Electoral Registration Officers, aimed at ensuring that registers are as accurate and complete as possible and that everyone who is eligible and wants to vote is able to do so, and lay these before the UK, Scottish and Welsh Parliaments.
- We will also work to support the 2021 canvass in Northern Ireland, including through a public awareness campaign to highlight what people need to do to ensure they are registered to vote.
- We will take forward work to develop and implement a strategy to support increased resilience in the delivery of electoral services at a local level. Working with key partners in the electoral community, we will continue to explore initiatives such as the introduction of an induction and mentoring programme for new Returning Officers and the development of an effective electoral services toolkit.
- We will continue to support the Scottish and Welsh governments’ changes to the franchise to ensure they are workable for the public and EROs, and will raise public awareness of these changes through our targeted Welcome to Your Vote campaign materials.
- Our electoral fraud work will continue to include close engagement with the police and with local authorities, and will be supported by public-facing activity such as our Your Vote is Yours Alone campaign.
Our plan for 2021-22:
We will continue to deliver our statutory duties to:
- Maintain the registers of political parties and campaigners, ensuring voters have clarity about registered parties and campaigners on the ballot paper
- Publish financial data from parties and campaigners, including that related to elections, ensuring transparency for voters
- Deliver effective enforcement of the political finance rules, ensuring voters, parties and campaigners have confidence that the rules are enforced proportionately and with impact, within our current powers. We will continue to publish the outcome of each investigation, including in full reports where that is warranted, so voters, parties and campaigners can see the way we act to enforce the rules
Alongside these core duties we will continue to develop the way we support parties and campaigners to comply. We will:
- Deliver a new Political Finance Online system to support parties and campaigners to deliver their financial returns efficiently
- Provide timely advice and guidance to parties and campaigners to support them in meeting their legal requirements, including for the major and complex polls scheduled for 2021
- Consult on and then develop our new strategic framework to ensure effective and impactful proactive support
- We will continue to enhance the quality of our regulatory work by rolling reviews of regulatory procedures and completing a project on enhancing our enforcement processes.
We will continue to respond to the changing environment and impacts of digital campaigning. We will work with government, social media companies and other providers of digital advertising to ensure their services and policies support transparency for election and referendum campaign activity; we will continue to scrutinise their proposals and bring forward proposals of our own as appropriate.
We will administer the policy development grants scheme and ensure it operates effectively by making timely recommendations to the UK Government for any necessary changes.
Our plan for 2021-22:
- The UK Government is expected to publish an Electoral Integrity Bill in the spring. We will continue to provide expert advice and evidence to the UK Government and Parliament about the likely impact and workability of the Bill’s provision during its passage
- We will continue to provide expert advice and support to political parties, campaigners, governments and the public to inform policy change, educate and inform the public and promote partnership working across the electoral sector. We will make changes to our processes to maintain and improve high standards of customer service
- We will report on the administration of elections in line with our statutory duties to ensure we utilise learning to improve the delivery of future events
- We will continue to promote and build support for changes to our democratic processes, including through collaborative working with key partners and stakeholders
- We will take forward work on a project to examine options for modernising voting
- We will continue to develop our evidence base to enable greater understanding of the electoral environment, including horizon scanning for emerging issues, risks and opportunities to the electoral system. We will gather data and information after elections, including on public attitudes as well as the experiences of electoral administrators and candidates
- We will undertake public awareness activity to increase voter understanding of the rules already in place to regulate the digital campaigning techniques increasingly used to reach voters
- We will continue to expand our suite of education and learning materials, building on our experiences in Scotland and Wales in the previous year to support education across the UK in both formal and informal settings
- We will continue to develop our corporate website by updating and revising the research content it contains. We will use open data and digital tools to improve accessibility and to present the information in accessible visual formats
- We will continue our research and data analysis of cases of electoral fraud to ensure we identify and raise further proposals to help tackle the issue
Our plan for 2021-22:
As we move out of the pandemic lock-downs, a key priority for 2021-22 will be to manage the transition out of full remote working, taking the opportunities presented by changed expectations of the workplace to increase flexibility and increase our efficiency further.
- Our Ways of Working project has provided us with a strong foundation. We will build on this during 2021 to design new working practices and culture which help us maximise performance and meet changed staff expectations
- We have captured lessons from our experience of remote working to help us drive out greater efficiencies in our use of office space post pandemic. Our new approach will reflect an environment where staff expect to travel less and work more flexibly between the office and home, allowing a more sustainable and efficient approach to the use of resources
- Our development of a new Corporate Plan for 2022-27 will continue in 2021, led by the new Chair of the Commission. The arrival of a new Chair, supported by a Board that includes experienced and new Commissioners is an opportunity for us to build on the good work over recent years to set out a new vision for the Commission. As part of this we will be developing a new five-year financial strategy
- This is the first year in which we are required to be funded by the Welsh Senedd and the Scottish Parliament as well as the UK Parliament. This asks more of the Commission in terms of accountability and we will be working with all three legislatures to ensure clear oversight arrangements
- 2020/21 saw the first year’s implementation of our People Strategy. This is designed to develop a culture where employees are able to perform their roles effectively, are engaged and able to see how they individually contribute to what the Commission is aiming to achieve. We will continue to pursue the strategy through 2021/22
- The Commission has adopted the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter and established an internal task force, led by the Chief Executive, to implement it. As a part of this the Commission has committed to zero-tolerance of bullying and will update its Dignity at Work policy
- Equality and diversity are central commitments. We will as a priority focus on improving the diversity data we hold on staff and Commissioners and actively profiling the diversity of applicants we attract. We will publish a new Equality Scheme and Employers Statement on Diversity
- We will be further expanding our Management Development Programme to include all people managers within the Commission. We will continue our focus on learning and development
- Building on the IT and office environment changes we will be looking to further develop our culture to improve communication and collaboration across teams and provide staff with the maximum flexibility as to when, where and how they work that fits with the Commission’s needs. We will put in hand a follow-on initiative to our Ways of Working project to develop a new working model for adoption as we come out of the pandemic
- We will continue to develop our quality management approach, building on our initial progress in 2020. We will maintain the progress we have made in using quality techniques to enhance our delivery. Our aim is to build a culture where quality is a central principle in driving continuous improvement
- The move to shared funding and accountability also requires us to learn a new, more complex funding environment where we will be applying as appropriate what we learn from this in one part of UK to our approach in the others
- We will continue to upgrade our internal financial systems to improve efficiency and our ability to forecast
Details of our achievements in 2020-21
- We continued to provide guidance and resources for Returning Officers and electoral administrators to support them with preparing for and delivering scheduled elections. In this year, this included the development of specific guidance to support the delivery of the May 2021 polls in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, working closely with public health bodies, governments and the electoral community
- We worked closely with the UK’s governments and electoral administrators on canvass reform. This included the publication of new guidance, resources and performance standards to support the effective implementation of the new processes. We also developed additional guidance to address the specific challenges of administering the canvass during the coronavirus pandemic
- We continued to transition our guidance into a modern web-based format to make it more accessible and easier to navigate
- We advanced work on developing our improvement strategy to support local authorities with developing the resilience and capacity of their electoral services, scoping out the activities we want to take forward with partners from across the electoral community over the coming years
- We made significant improvements to how we manage applications for accreditation as an electoral observer, making the process easier to navigate and more efficient to administer
- We continued our work to combat electoral fraud, including the Your Vote is Yours Alone campaign and continuing to liaise with the police
- We set up a new team dedicated to proactive support for parties and campaigners to help them comply with the law
- We made substantial progress on a review of registered descriptions to make sure only those meeting the legal tests are included
- We maintained the register of political parties and campaigners by assessing applications to register and to update party and campaigner details
- We published financial returns from the 2019 UK general election and other routine returns, ensuring transparency of political finance for the public
- We provided timely and accurate advice to parties and campaigners and published new guidance on upcoming elections
- We drafted Codes of Practice on reporting party and candidate spending in Wales and Scotland
- We carried out investigations when appropriate and published the outcomes to ensure that voters, parties and campaigners have confidence that the rules are being enforced proportionately
- We commenced a new project to make improvements to our enforcement processes to ensure they are up to date with good practice
- We continued work on developing a new online portal for party and campaigner finance and registration
- We engaged proactively with social media companies and worked closely with the government to ensure that electoral practice keeps pace with developments in the sector
- We continued to administer the policy development grants scheme
- We provided expert insight and advice to support governments’ deliberations on proposals for legislative changes, including to support safe participation in the polls and to inform the UK Government’s work on digital imprints
- We continued to develop the content and functionality of our website, to make it more informative and accessible for voters, parties, campaigners, electoral administrators, academics, the media and others
- We published a report on the 2019 Parliamentary General Election
- We began a project to examine voter expectations and options for modernising voting
- We launched education resources in Scotland and Wales, supporting teachers and other educators to enhance understanding of the democratic process amongst 14-18 year olds, ahead of the parliamentary elections in those countries for which the franchise begins at 16
- Provided the Scottish and Welsh governments and parliaments with independen
The Commission switched to full remote working in mid-March. Our aim has been to combine a focus on supporting staff wellbeing with continuing to deliver for voters. It is clear from findings in our recent engagement Survey and from feedback from our Staff Group that staff have felt well supported, allowing us to maintain productivity. And we have continued to deliver both core business and initiatives such as the People Strategy, embedding new project and performance systems and upgrading our technology. In particular:
- We moved to remote-working in March 2020 over the course of a weekend. We carried out a review of our initial response to the pandemic which found that we had maintained productivity whilst ensuring staff wellbeing, and that staff had felt well supported to continue to deliver efficiently
- We administratively supported the Speakers Committee to fill five Commissioner roles falling due. We welcomed the re-appointment, with the support of the House of Commons, of three existing Commissioners. A new Chair of the Commission, a Commissioner for the smaller parties, and a Commissioner with lead Northern Ireland responsibilities are being appointed
- Our audited Annual Report and Accounts for 2019/20 were produced on time and unqualified before Summer Recess, to the same timetable as the previous year
- We have built on established quality management processes in our Regulation teams to begin rolling out quality management processes across the Commission, and have already been able to enhance our delivery in areas such as the statutory accredited observers scheme
- We answered 92% of Freedom of Information enquiries within statutory deadlines, up from 82% in 2019/20. We aim to continue to improve performance in 2021/22. We continue as in recent years to have no complaints to the Information Commissioner on our responses upheld
- We launched our new People Strategy in May 2020, allowing us to spend 2020/21 implementing a number of the actions. This included new processes for managing staff development and planning learning and development, launching a new management development programme, relaunching our ‘instant thank-you’ scheme and recognising employment service of 10 year
- Our All Staff Survey in Spring 2020 had an 86 percent response rate. The results compare favourably with the 2019 Civil Service benchmark, more than half of all questions being at least 5 percentage points higher than the benchmark scores and 80 percent of respondents believing action was taken on the previous survey (44 percent higher than the Civil Service). The results also showed improvement in our staff engagement index score (72 percent, up 7 percent since 2018), with 82 percent of staff stating they would recommend the Commission as a place to work (21 percent higher than the Civil Service)
- The Commission ran a staff engagement ‘pulse’ survey for the first time in late 2020. This was designed to understand how staff have been coping with the remote way of working since the Covid-19 pandemic. Key findings include that 90 percent of staff strongly agreed or agreed that Commission cares about their mental health and wellbeing and 64 percent strongly agreed/agreed that change was well managed, up 36 percent since all staff survey
- We have successfully delivered substantial planned changes to our IT infrastructure to provide modernised, more flexible, communication and collaborative working tools such as new legal case management software and a performance tracking package; and we have rolled out laptops to the majority of staff
- Electoral administrator
- Political party
- The Electoral Commission
- UK wide