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Statistical bulletin: Electoral Statistics for UK, 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 22 February 2012 Download PDF

UK Electoral Statistics, 2011

  • The total number of UK parliamentary electors in December 2011 was 46,107,200, an increase of 0.6 per cent from December 2010.
  • The total number of UK local government electors in December 2011 was 47,383,500, an increase of 0.9 per cent from December 2010.
  • In the year to December 2011, the highest growth in the number of electors has been in Northern Ireland and the lowest growth in Scotland.
  • At regional level within England, the highest growth in the number of parliamentary electors in the year to December 2011 was in the East of England and the lowest in the North West.
  • The highest growth in the number of local government electors in the year to December 2011 was in London and the lowest in the North West.

Introduction

Electoral statistics are compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published for the UK and its constituent countries, local government areas and parliamentary constituencies. They provide annual counts of the number of people who are on the electoral registers on 1 December each year.

Statistics are available for the two main classifications of voters: 

  • Parliamentary Electors – those entitled to vote in Westminster Parliamentary elections.

  • Local Government Electors – those entitled to vote in local government and European elections.

The main differences between who is included in these classifications of voters are related to residence and citizenship qualifications. Local Government Electors include European Union citizens resident in the UK who are not entitled to vote in Westminster Parliamentary elections, whilst Parliamentary Electors include British citizens resident overseas who are not entitled to vote in local government elections.

There are three key reasons why the registered numbers of electors in an area can change from year to year:

  • a change in the size of the population who are eligible to vote; for example, due to international migration.

  • a change in the proportion of the eligible population who actually register to vote; for example, more people registering as a result of better canvassing.

  • differences in administative practices; for example, the extent of use of the 'carry forward', which allows for an elector to be retained on the electoral register for a year when they have not responded to an annual canvass.

This release provides counts of the number of people who were on the electoral registers on 1 December 2011.

Methods, Quality and Uses

For England and Wales, electoral statistics are derived from data supplied to ONS by local Electoral Registration Officers at the end of December each year. Data for Scotland are similarly collected by council areas and collated by National Records of Scotland (NRS). Data for Northern Ireland are collected by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI). ONS then compile statistics for the UK using the data supplied by NRS and EONI.

Further information is available from our Electoral Statistics Information Page.

Electoral statistics are collated and published by ONS. They are used by government and the Electoral Commission to inform the development and planning of electoral policies and for statutory reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries. The statistics are also of interest to Members of Parliament and the general public.

Electoral statistics represent the most accurate count possible of the number of electors on 1 December each year. They are subject to comprehensive quality assurance procedures and are consistent and comparable across the UK constituent countries. Information on the quality of these statistics is provided in theQuality and Methodology Information paper for Electoral Statistics available from our Quality Reports for Social Statistics page. 
 

Parliamentary electors

The total number of UK parliamentary electors in December 2011 was 46,107,200, an increase of 0.6 per cent from December 2010.

The total number of parliamentary electors in each of the UK constituent countries and the percentage changes during the year to December 2011 are:

  • England – 38,654,000, an increase of 0.5 per cent.

  • Wales – 2,298,600, an increase of 0.7 per cent.

  • Scotland – 3,941,600, an increase of 0.3 per cent.

  • Northern Ireland – 1,213,000, an increase of 1.9 per cent.

Over the last five years the total number of UK parliamentary electors has increased by an average of 0.6 per cent annually. However, different patterns of change can be seen at UK constituent country level. The number of electors in England has increased on average by 0.6 per cent each year, however the number of electors in Scotland fell between 2007 and 2009 and in Wales fell between 2008 and 2009. Northern Ireland has had consistently higher growth in the number of parliamentary electors, averaging 2.5 per cent across the period 2006 to 2011.

Figure 1: Annual percentage change in parliamentary electors for UK constituent countries 2006/07 to 2010/11

Chart shows the annual percentage change in the number of parliamentary electors for UK constituent countries from 2006/7 to 2010/11
Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Electoral Office for Northern Ireland

Download chart

Across England there was a 0.5 per cent rise in the total number of parliamentary electors between 2010 and 2011. However, figure 2 shows that there was considerable variation between different English regions with the East of England, South East and North East having an increase of approximately 0.8 per cent compared to an increase of less than 0.1 per cent in the North West.

Figure 2: Percentage change in parliamentary electors for English regions, 2010 to 2011

Chart shows the percentage change in the number of parliamentary electors for English regions between 2010 and 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Parliamentary Constituencies

There are currently 650 Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies in the UK including 533 in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland. These are the current boundaries that came into force at the May 2010 General Election. Electoral statistics provide counts of the total number of parliamentary electors for all Parliamentary Constituencies in the UK.

The average size of constituencies varies between the constituent countries of the UK with a median total parliamentary electorate across constituencies of approximately 72,600 in England, 67,500 in Scotland, 66,200 in Northern Ireland and 58,000 in Wales. Within each country, the constituencies were designed to ensure that the sizes of the electorate in each constituency were as similar as possible. However, geographical constraints mean that in December 2011, constituencies ranged in size from 22,000 parliamentary electors in Na h-Eileanan an Iar to 110,900 in Isle of Wight.

The total parliamentary electorate increased in 500 constituencies (77 per cent) between December 2010 and December 2011. In total 17 constituencies had an increase of more than three per cent in their parliamentary electorate including one which increased by more than five per cent.

Table 1: Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies with greatest percentage increase in parliamentary electors in the year to December 2011

    Total Parliamentary Electorate (thousands) % Change
Rank Parliamentary Constituency County (C) or Borough (B) December 2010 December 2011 2010/11
1 Newcastle upon Tyne East B 65.2 68.9 5.7
2 Aberdeen North B 64.8 67.5 4.2
3 Nottingham South B 69.2 72.0 4.1
4 Ceredigion C 56.0 58.3 4.1
5 Nottingham East B 59.5 61.9 4.0
6 Blackley and Broughton B 69.0 71.5 3.7
7 Berwick-upon-Tweed C 55.8 57.7 3.5
8 Maidstone and The Weald C 70.6 73.0 3.4
9 Sutton and Cheam B 66.6 68.8 3.3
10 Milton Keynes North C 81.2 83.9 3.3

Table notes:

  1. Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Electoral Office for Northern Ireland

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Eight of the constituencies with the greatest percentage increase in parliamentary electors in the year to December 2011 are in England. One constituency in Scotland (Aberdeen North) and one in Wales (Ceredigion) are also in the top ten. The majority of these top ten areas are borough constituencies, which are defined as predominantly urban areas. County constituencies are partly or mostly rural areas. The designation of a constituency as either borough or county is made by the relevant Boundary Commission.

The greatest percentage increase in parliamentary electors in a Northern Ireland constituency was 3.1 per cent in Foyle (ranked 13th).

The total parliamentary electorate decreased in 149 constituencies (23 per cent) between December 2010 and December 2011. However, only nine constituencies had a decrease of more than three per cent in their parliamentary electorate including one which decreased by more than five per cent.

Table 2: Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies with greatest percentage decrease in parliamentary electors in the year to December 2011

  Total Parliamentary Electorate (thousands) % Change
Rank Parliamentary Constituency County (C) or Borough (B) December 2010 December 2011 2010/11
1 Stretford and Urmston B 70.5 66.5 -5.7
2 Leeds North West B 65.0 61.8 -5.0
3 Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport B 71.2 67.8 -4.9
4 Stirling C 66.7 64.1 -4.0
5 Angus C 64.2 61.8 -3.7
6 Falkirk C 82.5 79.5 -3.6
7 Ochil and South Perthshire C 75.8 73.2 -3.5
8 Altrincham and Sale West B 72.0 69.8 -3.1
9 Bath B 66.7 64.7 -3.0
10 Lancaster and Fleetwood C 67.3 65.4 -2.8

Table notes:

  1. Source Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Electoral Office for Northern Ireland 

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Six of the constituencies with the greatest percentage decrease in parliamentary electors in the year to December 2011 are in England and four are in Scotland. All of the constituencies in Scotland in the top ten are county constituencies, indicating that they are partly or mostly rural areas whereas the majority of those in England are more urban borough constituencies.

The constituency with the greatest decrease in parliamentary electors in Wales was Swansea West at -1.7 per cent (ranked 19th). No constituencies in Northern Ireland had a decrease in their number of parliamentary electors.

Local government electors

The total number of UK local government electors in December 2011 was 47,383,500, an increase of 0.9 per cent from December 2010.

The total number of local government electors in each of the UK constituent countries and the percentage changes during the year to December 2011 are:

  • England – 39,825,800, an increase of 0.9 per cent.

  • Wales – 2,322,100, an increase of 0.9 per cent.

  • Scotland – 4,008,400, an increase of 0.6 per cent.

  • Northern Ireland – 1,227,100, an increase of 2.1 per cent.

Over the last five years the total number of UK local government electors has increased by an average of 0.8 per cent annually. However, different patterns of change can be seen at UK constituent country level. The number of electors in England and Wales has increased each year however the number of electors in Scotland fell between 2008 and 2009. Northern Ireland has had consistently higher growth in the number of local government electors, averaging 2.7 per cent across the period 2006 to 2011. The pattern is similar to that seen for the parliamentary electorate.

Figure 3: Annual percentage change in local government electors for UK constituent countries, 2006/07 to 2010/11

Chart shows the annual percentage change in the number of local government electors for UK constituent countries from 2006/7 to 2010/11
Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Electoral Office for Northern Ireland

Download chart

Across England there was a 0.9 per cent rise in the total number of local government electors between 2010 and 2011. However, there was considerable variation between different regions with London having an increase of 1.4 per cent compared to an increase of just 0.2 per cent in the North West of England.

Figure 4: Percentage change in local government electors for English regions 2010 to 2011

Chart shows the percentage change in the number of local government electors for English regions between 2010 and 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Local Government Areas

Local government areas are unitary authorities, London boroughs and district councils in England; unitary authorities in Wales; and council areas in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are a total of 406 local government areas in the UK; 326 in England, 32 in Scotland, 26 in Northern Ireland and 22 in Wales.

In December 2011, the size of local government electorates ranged from 1,700 electors in Isles of Scilly to 762,600 in Birmingham. The average size of local government electorates also varies considerably between the constituent countries of the UK with a median across local government areas of approximately 98,800 in Wales, 97,800 in England, 93,000 in Scotland but only 40,400 in Northern Ireland.

The total local government electorate increased in 339 local government areas (83 per cent) between December 2010 and December 2011. However, only 51 areas had an increase of more than two per cent in their electorate including three which increased by more than 4 per cent.

Table 3: Local government areas with greatest percentage increase in local government electors in the year to December 2011

  Total Local Government Electorate (thousands) % Change
Rank Local Government Area December 2010 December 2011 2010/11
1 Aberdeen City 158.1 165.9 4.9
2 Ceredigion 56.9 59.4 4.2
3 Maidstone 114.1 118.8 4.1
4 Luton UA 133.2 138.4 3.9
5 Crawley 75.4 78.3 3.9
6 Sutton 138.6 143.4 3.5
7 Nottingham UA 200.3 207.3 3.5
8 Aberdeenshire 185.5 191.7 3.4
9 Castle Point 64.7 66.9 3.4
10 Newry and Mourne 66.0 68.1 3.2

Table notes:

  1. Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Electoral Office for Northern Ireland

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Six of the local government areas with the greatest percentage increase in local government electors in the year to December 2011 are in England. Two areas in Scotland (Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire), one in Wales (Ceredigion) and one in Northern Ireland (Newry and Mourne) are also in the top ten.

The total local government electorate decreased in 67 local government areas (17 per cent) between December 2010 and December 2011. However, only 10 areas had a decrease of more than two per cent in their local government electorate including three which decreased by more than four per cent.

Five of the local government areas in the top ten for the greatest percentage decrease in local government electors are in Scotland, including Clackmannanshire which has the largest percentage decrease at -4.6 per cent. The remaining five are all in England.

The local government area with the greatest decrease in local government electors in Wales was Gwynedd at -1.4 per cent (ranked 14th). No areas in Northern Ireland had a decrease in their number of local government electors.

Table 4: Local government areas with greatest percentage decrease in local government electors in the year to December 2011

  Total Local Government Electorate (thousands) % Change
Rank Local Government Area December 2010 December 2011 2010/11
1 Clackmannanshire 39.0 37.2 -4.6
2 Trafford 168.1 160.9 -4.3
3 Stirling 67.8 65.1 -4.0
4 Falkirk 118.3 113.9 -3.7
5 Angus 88.1 85.5 -3.0
6 Isles of Scilly UA 1.8 1.7 -2.5
7 Perth and Kinross 112.5 109.9 -2.3
8 Plymouth UA 185.0 180.9 -2.2
9 Solihull 161.7 158.2 -2.2
10 Lancaster 111.3 108.9 -2.1

Table notes:

  1. Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Electoral Office for Northern Ireland

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Other electoral statistics

Other electoral statistics produced for areas within the UK include:

England

Statistics for parliamentary electors for electoral wards in England for 1 December 2010 have been published by the Boundary Commission for England. These statistics are produced from data collected from Electoral Registration Officers by ONS and are those used for the 2013 boundary review process.

The data can be accessed individually for each English region from the Boundary Commission for England website.

Wales

Statistics for National Assembly for Wales electors by Assembly Constituencies are published by Welsh Government. Those electors who are eligible to vote in local government elections in Wales are eligible to vote in National Assembly for Wales elections. These statistics are produced from data collected from Electoral Registration Officers by ONS.

The data are available from the StatsWales website.

The Boundary Commission for Wales also publish statistics for the parliamentary electorate by Electoral Divisions.

Scotland

Electoral statistics for Scotland are produced and published by National Records of Scotland (NRS). Additional statistics not included in the overall UK publication cover Scottish Parliament Constituencies, Scottish regions and electoral wards. 

The data are available from the electoral statistics section of their website.

Northern Ireland

Electoral statistics for Northern Ireland are produced and published by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI). Monthly electoral statistics for both the parliamentary and local government electorate are available at electoral ward level from the electoral statistics section of their website.

Background notes

  1. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

  2. Electoral statistics for 1 December 2011 are available from the Elections section of our website.

  3. Published tables include counts of local government electors and attainers by local government areas and parliamentary electors and attainers by parliamentary constituency. An attainer is a person who attains the age of 18 during the currency of the register, and is entitled to vote at an election on or after his or her eighteenth birthday.

  4. A report describing the methodology used to create the electoral statistics estimates can be found on our Electoral Statistics Information page.

  5. Information on previous elections held in the UK or its constituent countries and a list of upcoming elections and referendums is available from the Electoral Commission.   

  6. This is the first release of 1 December 2011 UK electoral statistics. No revisions of this dataset have been made.

  7. Next publication:

    February 2013

    Issued by:

    Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG

    Media contact:

    Tel:  Media Relations Office 0845 6041858

    Emergency on-call 07867 906553

    Email:  media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  8. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office.

    © Crown copyright 2012.

    You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence, or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU

    Email:  psi@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk

  9. Produced in partnership with National Records of Scotland (NRS) and Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI).

  10. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Alison Whitworth +44 (0)1633 444661 Electoral Statistics Unit pop.info@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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