Charities running a hustings

If you are a charity running a hustings, we recommend you read the guidance from the relevant charity regulator:

Part of UKRegulator
England and WalesCharity Commission for England and Wales
ScotlandOSCR
Northern IrelandCharity Commission for Northern Ireland

Charities must not support or oppose any particular political party or candidate. One way of making sure that a charity does not do this is to hold non-selective hustings featuring candidates from as wide a political spectrum as possible.

In some circumstances, charity law allows charities not to invite a candidate or party on the basis of their views or policies.

For example, in their guidance for English and Welsh charities, the Charity Commission of England and Wales say this could apply to:

“a representative from a political party which advocates policies which are in contravention of the charity’s objects, or whose presence or views are likely to alienate the charity’s supporters.”

Although they are clear that:

“a charity would have to have very strong reasons for deciding not to invite a mainstream political party.” (Charities, Elections and Referendums p3)

It can be justifiable for a charity to hold a selective hustings of this kind.

However, in our view, if you decide not to invite a party or candidate on the basis or their views or policies, this is not an impartial reason, in the sense that we have defined in this guidance. The hustings would therefore be selective.

If the selective hustings takes place in a regulated period, then the spending will be regulated and count as regulated spending towards your total in the relevant part of the UK.

Spending on a hustings is often low. You only need to register with us if you are going to spend over £20,000 in England or £10,000 in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland on regulated campaign activity during the regulated period. In a regulated period for a UK parliamentary general election, there is a limit of £9,750 for regulated spending which affects a particular constituency.

Last updated: 6 November 2019