Our role as regulator is to oversee the rules regulating the financing of political parties and other organisations and individuals taking part in political campaigns. We regulate: political parties | regulated donees | non-party campaigners | candidates
Applicable legislative frameworks
As part of our role, we provide advice and guidance to help organisations and individuals to comply with the law: Guidance for those we regulate.
Three Acts of Parliament govern political finances. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) sets out the rules for political parties, third parties, permitted participants and regulated donees with regards to registration, donations, statement of accounts and campaign expenditure.
The Electoral Administration Act 2006 (EAA) extended the controls to loans and other borrowings.
The Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 (PPEA) , which received Royal Assent in July 2009, made further changes and increased the threshold for permissible and reportable donations. To read more about the changes made by the PPEA and how they affect those we regulate, please visit our changes to legislation page.
Please follow the links below to view the Acts:
- Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA)
- Electoral Administration Act 2006 (EAA)
- Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 (PPE Act)
The conduct of candidates is regulated by the Representation of the People Act 1983 (RPA):
There is no limit to the amount an individual or organisation can donate or lend to an organisation/individual. However, the money must come from a permissible source if it is above £500.
When organisations/individuals receive a donation or a loan above £500, they must verify that the donor or lender is permissible.
Under Section 54 of PPERA, eligible donors or lenders are:
- an individual registered in a UK electoral register (including bequests)
- a UK registered company which is incorporated within the European Union and carries on business in the UK
- a GB registered political party
- a UK registered trade union
- a UK registered building society
- a UK registered limited liability partnership that carries on business in the UK
- a UK registered friendly society
- a UK based unincorporated association that carries on business or other activities in the UK
Additionally, certain kinds of UK-based trusts can also donate to political parties. Parties must not, however, enter into loans with trusts.
When an organisation or individual receives a donation, it has 30 days to decide whether the donor or lender is permissible. If it is found that the donor is impermissible, it can return the money to the donor if within 30 days from the day the donation was received. If the donation is accepted but is later found to be from an impermissible source, the money may have to be forfeited and paid into the Consolidated Fund.
If the loan or credit facility is from an impermissible source, the transaction is void.
Details of donations and loans made to parties, politicians and other organisations can be viewed through our PEF Online database.
In addition to acts of Parliament, there are other sources of rules on political finances. These include statutory instruments, which can be found on the Office of Public Sector Information's website.