This document explains non-party campaign spending, the rules that you must follow and how to manage your campaign spending.

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1 Situations and procedures Managing nonparty campaign spending This document explains non-party campaign spending, the rules that you must follow and how to manage your campaign spending. Terms and expressions we use We use must when we refer to a specific legal or regulatory requirement. We use should for items we consider to be minimum good practice, but which are not legal requirements. You do not have to follow this guidance, but if you do, you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. What counts as campaign spending Our approach to enforcement Contents: Notional spending If you do not comply with legal or regulatory requirementsmanaging you or your campaign spending organisation may be subject to civil or criminal sanctions. You can find Splitting and allocating spending more information about the Commission s approach to enforcement at Recording and reporting spending

2 Terms and expressions we use We use must when we refer to a specific legal or regulatory requirement. We use should for items we consider to be minimum good practice, but which are not legal requirements. You do not have to follow this guidance, but if you do, you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Our approach to enforcement If you do not comply with legal or regulatory requirements you or your organisation may be subject to civil or criminal sanctions. You can find more information about the Commission s approach to enforcement at

3 1 Managing non-party campaign spending Who this document is for: Non-party campaigners involved in election campaigning The document covers: What counts as campaign spending Notional spending Managing campaign spending Splitting campaign spending Allocating spending across the UK Recording campaign spending Reporting after the election Related documents: Introduction to non-party campaigners Overview of non-party campaigns Overview of non-party campaign material Situations and procedures: Hustings events Expert papers Splitting spending Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

4 2 Summary If you are a non-party campaigner, you may need to follow rules on what you can spend under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act This guidance will give you an understanding of those rules and how you should manage your campaign spending. Managing non-party campaign spending

5 3 Introduction Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), there are limits on how much non-party campaigners can spend in the run-up to an election, and who they can accept donations from. Under PPERA, we regulate non-party campaigns that produce campaign material that can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence people s voting choice. If you want to spend more than 10,000 on this type of campaigning, you must register with us as a recognised third party. If you are registered with us, you must follow rules about how you manage your spending. This guidance explains those rules. You must also follow rules on the donations you can accept. You can find out more information in our Overview of donations to non-party campaigners. For more information on the types of nonparty campaigning, see this document: Overview of nonparty campaigns Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

6 4 What counts as campaign spending? Which costs are covered? All costs relating to your campaign material must be counted towards your spending limit. This includes: Advertising of any kind. For example, newspaper or web adverts. Unsolicited material to voters. For example, letters, leaflets or s you send that aren t in answer to an individual enquiry from a voter for specific information. Unsolicited material will also include material sent to mailing lists of people who have signed up to receive information about your campaign. Websites promoting your campaign, if you promote them to the public. You must include all the costs associated with each activity. For example: Agency and design costs Cost of staff time producing campaign material Distribution or delivery costs Costs for part of a website dedicated to your campaign You must make an honest assessment based on the facts of the amount you need to record. For more information on what we mean by campaign material, see this document: Overview of non-party campaign material All costs should be inclusive of VAT, even if you can recover VAT payments. Managing non-party campaign spending

7 5 Items given free of charge or at a discount You must include: Items or services bought before an election s regulated period begins, but used during it. Items or services given to you free of charge or at a noncommercial discount (see Notional spending on page 7). Downloadable material If you put material on a website for people to print off for their personal use, such as window posters or petition forms, the design and website costs count as campaign spending. You do not need to count people s print costs against your spending limit, as the costs will be very low. If the material could be printed and distributed to voters for instance a leaflet you will need to make it clear how you expect people to use it. If you authorise wider use of the material, the production costs may count as campaign spending whoever does the printing. Splitting spending You may need to split your spending in some cases. For example, between activities that count as campaign spending and those that don t. You can find out more on page 9. At some elections, you may need to split spending between different parts of the UK. You can find out more on page 10. Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

8 6 Joint campaigns with other non-party campaigners If you are working with other non-party campaigners on a joint campaign, any costs you incur between you will count towards your limit. For example: You and another party each agree to spend 8,000 on a joint campaign. So, the total for the joint campaign is 16,000. Both of you will have to record a joint campaign spend of 16,000. As the cost of the joint campaign means your spending goes over 10,000, you and the other campaigner must each register with us as a recognised third party. For more information on registering with us see: Overview of nonparty campaigns What isn t included in campaign spending? Activities that aren t included in campaign spending are: Volunteer time, including time spent by your staff that you do not pay them for People s travel or personal expenses linked to the campaign if you do not reimburse them Anything (except adverts) appearing in a newspaper or on a licensed broadcast channel Anything that counts as campaign spending by a registered political party or a candidate s election expenses Material for members and committed supporters Material you send to your members or committed supporters does not count as campaign material, provided it deals with issues that fall within the aims and objectives of your organisation. If you send campaign material alongside other non-campaign material, you may need to record a proportion of the costs as campaign spending (see splitting costs on page 7). For example, if you send a mailing that has general information about your organisation as well as campaign material. For more information on what we mean by committed supporters see this document: Overview of nonparty campaign material Managing non-party campaign spending

9 7 Notional spending Notional spending is the difference in value between the commercial rate for an item or service and the price you pay. You may find that you pay for items or activities at a lower cost than their commercial value. For example, because the supplier supports your campaign. However, you must record the full commercial value of these items or activities if: you receive the item free of charge or at a non-commercial discount of more than 10%, and the difference in value between the commercial rate and what you pay is over 200 Commercial discounts are those available to other similar customers, such as discounts for bulk orders or seasonal reductions. Non-commercial discounts are special discounts that you, specifically, are given by suppliers. If you receive a discount of 10% or less, or the difference in value is 200 or less, you only need to record the amount you paid. Valuing notional spending If the supplier is a commercial provider, you should use the rates they charge other customers. If this information isn t available, you should find out what similar providers charge for the same goods or services and use this as the commercial value. You should keep a record of how you reached your valuation and keep copies of any quotes you receive. The value you declare must be a fair and honest assessment of the commercial value. If you are not sure how to value something, please call or us for advice. Valuing seconded staff If an employer seconds a member of staff to your campaign, you must record their gross salary and any additional allowances as the notional value. You do not need to include the employer s national insurance or pension contributions. The internet is a good resource for finding out the market rate for goods and services. Notional spending with a value of more than 500 is also treated as a donation. For more information, see this document: Overview of donations to nonparty campaigners Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

10 8 Managing campaign spending Authorising and paying campaign spending Only the responsible person registered with us and people authorised in writing by the responsible person can incur campaign spending. For example, someone may be authorised to spend money on particular items, or up to a particular amount. These rules are in place to make sure that spending can be controlled and accurately recorded and reported. You should make sure that your staff, volunteers and campaigners know who can and cannot incur costs. Time limits for receiving and paying invoices Receiving invoices from suppliers You must obtain all your invoices from suppliers within 30 days of the election. If you do not get an invoice within 30 days, you must not pay it without getting a court order to do so. You should make your suppliers aware of this. Paying invoices from suppliers You must pay all your invoices from suppliers within 60 days of the election. If you do not pay an invoice within 60 days, you must then get a court order to be able to do so. By incur we mean make a legal commitment to spend money, such as confirming an order. Final decisions on prosecution for receiving and paying late invoices are made by the Crown Prosecution Service. We may issue a civil sanction for a breach of these rules. However, we will not usually consider taking enforcement action where the delay or amounts are small. Managing non-party campaign spending

11 9 Splitting spending You may need to split your costs between those materials that count as campaign spending and those that don t. Here are three common examples of where you need to split costs: If you produce a printed publication that includes usual organisation material and election campaign material, you will need to split the cost of the publication s design, print and distribution. If you add an area, or put campaign material on your website, you will need to split the cost of the design, website maintenance and web hosting. If you use paid staff to help produce campaign material, you will need to split the cost of their time between their usual organisation work and campaign material work. You may also need to split your costs between materials used before the regulated period began, and those used during it. For example, stocked office paper you may use to produce leaflets. The honest assessment principle In all cases you should make an honest assessment, based on facts, of the proportion of expenditure that can be fairly attributed to your campaign spending. If you are still not sure, call us for advice. Your responsible person must sign to declare the return is complete and correct. Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

12 10 Allocating spending across the UK At some elections, there are different spending limits for different parts of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). This means that you must allocate spending between the parts, to make sure that you stay within the limit for each part. Items used in each part of the UK must be counted towards the spending limit for that part. For example: If you distributed 10,000 leaflets in England and 10,000 leaflets in Wales, you would need to allocate half the cost to campaign spending in England and half to Wales. Minor overlaps In some cases your spending in one part of the UK may have a minor effect in another part. You should allocate spending to the part of the UK that your spending was aimed at. For example: If you advertised in a Welsh newspaper it may also be distributed to part of a bordering county in England. In this case you would allocate all spending to Wales. Managing non-party campaign spending

13 11 Spending that relates equally to parts of the UK Some types of spending may relate equally to different parts of the UK. Examples include websites, or advertising in a newspaper distributed across the UK. In these cases, you must divide the cost between the relevant parts of the UK, in proportion to the number of UK Parliamentary seats in each. The total number of Parliamentary seats in the UK is 650. They are distributed as follows: England: 533 Scotland: 59 Wales: 40 Northern Ireland 18 First, you need to add up the number of seats in the relevant parts of the UK to give you a total number of seats. Then you need to make this calculation: (Number of seats in relevant part of the UK total number of seats) x cost For example: Your party sets up a website for its UK-wide campaign. It costs 12,500. The total number of seats is 650. You need to make these calculations: England ( ) x 12,500 = 10, Scotland (59 650) x 12,500 = 1, Wales (40 650) x 12,500 = Northern Ireland (18 650) x 12,500 = Total = 12, Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

14 12 Recording campaign spending You must record all your campaign spending. You will need to send us this information in your spending return after the election. You must also keep invoices or receipts for any payments over 200. What you need to record For each item of spending, you must record the following information to put into your spending return: What the spending was for, for example, leaflets or advertising The name and address of the supplier The amount or value The date that you spent the money Items given free of charge If you receive items free of charge you must record the full market value of the item (the notional spending). You can find out how to do this on page 7. Items given at a non-commercial discount If you receive items at a non-commercial discount of more than 10% and it is valued at more than 200, you must include the full market value of the item (the notional spending). All costs must include VAT, even if you can recover VAT payments. If an item has a value of more than 500, and it is given free of charge or at a noncommercial discount, it may also be a donation. For more information see this document: Overview of donations to non-party campaigners Managing non-party campaign spending

15 13 Reporting after the election You must report your campaign spending and donations to us after the election. Your spending return must include the following: The election that the return relates to Records of your spending and donations Invoices and receipts for any payment over 200 The declaration from the responsible person to say that the return is complete and correct For each item of spending you must include: The name and address of the supplier The amount of spending incurred The date the spending occurred The date the claim for payment was made The date the payment was made The proportion of spending that relates to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (if applicable) You can find forms for your spending and donations at Nonparty campaigners Electoral Commission. If you have spent over 250,000 on your campaign, you will also need to include an independent auditor s certificate. It is a criminal offence to make a false declaration. For more information see: Auditor s report template Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

16 14 Campaign reporting deadlines The date you must report to us by will depend on how much you spend on your campaign. We publish these deadlines in our separate, year-specific guidance, that can be found on our website. You should check this guidance to make sure you know when the deadline is. However, as a guide, the general deadlines are shown below. Is your campaign expenditure 250k or below? Is your campaign expenditure over 250k? Report within 3 months of the election. Report within 6 months of the election. If your campaign expenditure is over 250,000, you will also need to provide an auditor s report. You may be liable for a penalty if you don t submit your return on time. For more information see: Auditor s report template Managing non-party campaign spending

17 15 How we can help You can find more information in the guidance documents we have suggested in this document, or you can view our full range of guidance and up-to-date resources on our website. If it s easier, you can also contact us on one of the phone numbers or addresses below. We are here to help, so please get in touch. Call us on: England: Scotland: Wales: Northern Ireland: Visit us at We welcome feedback on our guidance just us at: Need help? Just call us England: Scotland: Wales: N.Ireland:

18 16 Translations and other formats For information on obtaining this publication in another language or in a large-print or Braille version please contact the Electoral Commission: Tel: Managing non-party campaign spending

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