The Speaker
Saturday, 20 April 2024 – 22:34

UK Local Elections 2023: Everything you need to know

On May 4th, over 8,000 seats in 230 local councils across England will be up for contention in the local elections. Northern Ireland will have 11 further local council elections on 18th May; no Wales or Scotland seats will be up for grabs.

Why are these elections important?

Whilst often dismissed or forgotten by the electorate, the local elections provide an important opportunity to change the way your local area is run by electing different officials. Although local elections differ to national elections in that the political party member you vote for will not sit in the House of Commons, they will work to change the way your area is run.

Your vote in local elections could help drastically alter the way a number of different services are run in your borough, city, or county council.  Some of the key responsibilities that local governments has include:

  • Social care
  • Housing
  • Environmental planning
  • Waste collection
  • Business support
  • Local public transport
  • Schools
  • Council tax rates
  • Policing

Of course, political parties still matter when deciding whom to cast your vote for. It is important to research the members of each party standing in your local election if possible, and what their policy priorities are. Council tax rates for example, have been hiked across the country, but at different rates depending on the political party heading the local government of that area. A number of local elections will also feature independent candidates, not affiliated to any particular political party. For these candidates, it is worth investigating their specific policies before deciding to vote for them.

How can you cast your ballot?

Firstly, you must check that your local council has seats up for contention as not every local council in England is hosting elections. You can do this by entering your address on the Electoral Commissions site to find out if your local council is holding an election this May. If your council is participating you can locate your closest polling station by entering your postcode here, as well as finding information on how to cast your ballot.

A new feature of these local elections is the introduction of voter identification being required to cast your vote. The introduction of these new regulations have become a controversial issue due to the types of ID that will and won’t be accepted. You can find out more about the potential issues around voter ID here.

The new rules mean you must bring a valid form of photo identification with you in order to cast your ballot at these local elections, and indeed any other local or national election in the future. The full list of accepted valid forms of identification can be found here, notably this list does not include 18+ Oyster cards, or Rail cards.

How could the 2023 local elections pan out?

Of the roughly 8,000 seats up for contention, the largest proportion is currently taken by 3,367 Conservative party seats. Despite large Conservative numbers, it appears that national voting intention remains firmly on Labour’s side. A recent poll by YouGov showed an 18-point lead by Labour over the Conservatives should a general election be held tomorrow, with 45% saying they would vote for the Keir Starmer led party.

Of course, this does not necessarily mean that a majority of Conservative councils will flip to Labour, as many areas have strong allegiances to political parties. Additionally, local elections have had historically poor turnouts. Just 34.6% and 35.5% of the electorate turned out to vote in the 2018 and 2014 local elections respectively according to the Electoral Commission. This is exacerbated by the fact that the demographic with the lowest historical turnout is young people aged 18 -34 who tend to vote for left of centre candidates.

So whilst the current national mood may be that of anti-conservatism, this may not translate in to votes in the 4th May local elections. Ultimately, it is important that you get out to vote and have your say as to how your local council is run no matter how old you are it will have a substantial impact on your day-to-day life.

Skip to content