In 2020, political parties registered in Great Britain and Northern Ireland reported accepting a total of £41,627,063 in donations and public funds, according to new figures published by the Electoral Commission. This compares to over £117m accepted in 2019, and £49m in 2018.
In the fourth quarter of 2020 (October to December), 20 political parties registered in Great Britain and Northern Ireland accepted £10,937,856 in donations and public funds.
Commenting on the information published today, Louise Edwards, Director of Regulation, said:
“Publishing this data gives voters important information on how parties in the United Kingdom are being funded, in order to enhance public confidence and trust in our democratic processes.
“We welcome the fact that most parties continue to deliver their donation reports to us on time despite the challenging circumstances caused by Covid-19.”
Political parties are required to submit quarterly donation and loan returns to the Electoral Commission, and include:
- donations accepted above the £7,500 threshold (£1,500 for accounting units) smaller donations from a single donor which add together to exceed the reporting threshold
- donations which ought to have been reported in previous quarters
- impermissible donations they have received and the action taken in relation to these.
Donation and loan reports from this quarter also include furlough payments from HM Treasury which are included in the public funds category.
The 20 political parties that reported donations in quarter four of 2020, including public funds, were:
|Party||Total reported||Donations accepted (excl. public funds)||Public funds accepted||Total accepted in this quarter|
|Alliance - Alliance Party of Northern Ireland||£31,759||£17,500||£14,259||£31,759|
|Conservative and Unionist Party||£5,104,363||£4,992,834||£63,930||£5,056,764|
|Democratic Unionist Party - D.U.P.||£81,383||£0||£81,383||£81,383|
|Green Party (Great Britain)||£148,479||£102,538||£45,941||£148,479|
|Green Party (Northern Ireland)||£11,314||£0||£11,314||£11,314|
|People Before Profit Alliance||£21,820||£5,900||£4,520||£10,420|
|Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales||£33,595||£8,300||£25,295||£33,595|
|Scottish Green Party||£53,366||£48,786||£4,580||£53,366|
|Scottish Libertarian Party||£8,620||£7,150||£0||£7,150|
|Scottish National Party (SNP)||£293,063||£2,080||£270,983||£273,063|
|SDLP (Social Democratic & Labour Party)||£41,252||£0||£41,252||£41,252|
|Traditional Unionist Voice - TUV||£6,874||£0||£6,874||£6,874|
|Ulster Unionist Party||£22,894||£0||£22,894||£22,894|
|Women's Equality Party||£28,625||£21,375||£0||£21,375|
The amount that a political party reports to the Commission may be different to the amount it accepts in a quarter. This is because the amount that a party reports can include donations that were returned because they were impermissible and / or donations reported as part of the wrong quarter. As a result, this total can sometimes be more than the total donations that a party accepted in a quarter.
Parties will likely have received other donations, from different individuals or bodies, that are below the thresholds for reporting to the Commission. Taken as a total sum these can amount to substantial sources of income for parties.
Seven parties failed to meet the reporting deadline for this quarter. The Commission will consider each of these matters, as well as donations reported late, in line with its Enforcement Policy, if appropriate, and publish any sanctions applied at a later date.
Loans with a value of £24,109 were paid off in the fourth quarter of 2020. £78,914 in loans have been fully converted to donations in this quarter.
Donations accepted by regulated donees in Q4 2020
The Commission also publishes details of donations accepted by regulated donees. Regulated donees are members of registered political parties, holders of relevant elective office and members associations.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, £325,458 in donations were accepted by 17 donees. The total includes cash and non-cash donations, as well as donations towards overseas visits. Full details are available on our website.
|Type of regulated donee||Value of cash and non-cash donations accepted||Value of donations accepted towards overseas visits||Total value of donations accepted|
|GLA - Assembly Member||£10,000||£10,000|
|Member of Registered Political Party||£7,500||£0||£7,500|
|MP - Member of Parliament||£100,627||£4,000||£104,627|
A summary of donations reported by parties in the fourth quarter of 2020, including the highest donors and details of late reports, is available on the Commission’s website.
For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704, out of office hours 07789 920 414 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:
- enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focussing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
- regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
- using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency.
The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK, Scottish and Welsh parliaments.
The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) requires registered parties to report cash and non-cash donations and borrowing to the Electoral Commission on a quarterly basis. Political parties must report all donations and borrowing over £7,500 relating to the central party, or over £1,500 relating to an accounting unit. This includes aggregates of donations and loans from the same source during the calendar year.
As the parties only report donations and loans over these thresholds, the figures do not include all donations and loans to political parties. Donations and loans under these thresholds are recorded in political parties’ annual Statements of Accounts.
Public funds are donations from the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament and the Electoral Commission. ‘Short’ and ‘Cranborne’ grants are available to parties in opposition in the House of Commons or House of Lords respectively.
Some donations appear on the register as being from the Electoral Commission. These are Policy Development Grants, which were established by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 for parties represented in the Commons by two or more sitting members. The grants are intended to assist parties in developing the policies that they will present in an election manifesto. The legislation provides the total sum of £2 million annually for this purpose. Policy Development Grants became reportable as donations for the first time in quarter three of 2006 as a result of the Electoral Administration Act 2006.
There were 357 registered political parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland during quarter four 2020. 55 were required to submit a quarterly donation report and 45 to submit borrowing information within the deadline. The remaining political parties were exempt (unless they received donations) because they have previously submitted four consecutive nil returns.
More information on what constitutes a regulated donee and their legal reporting requirements is available on our website.
Members of Parliament report their accepted donations to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Members of Scottish Parliament report their accepted donations to the Register of Interests for the Scottish Parliament.
All other regulated donees report their donations directly to us. We then publish this information monthly as part of our role in providing greater transparency in political finance in the UK.
Due to lockdown restrictions, we have not been able to check all of our offices for any returns that may have been sent to us by post.
- Political party
- UK wide