The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Public funding for parties

This page provides information about public funds paid to political parties by the Commission and other bodies, including Policy Development Grants and other public funds.

To view all public funds paid to political parties, please visit our online donations database.

Policy Development Grants (PDGs)

Policy development grants are prescribed under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). They are awarded to help parties in developing policies to include in manifestos for elections to the following:

  • UK Parliament
  • European Parliament
  • Scottish Parliament
  • National Assembly for Wales
  • Northern Ireland Assembly
  • local government

Who is eligible for a grant?

The total grant is £2 million per year and distributed via a formula based on representation and performance at national and devolved legislature elections. To be eligible for the grant, a party must have at least two sitting Members of the House of Commons and have taken the oath of allegiance provided by the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866.

There are currently eight political parties eligible for the grant:

  • Conservative Party
  • Democratic Unionist Party – D.U.P.
  • Labour Party
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales
  • Scottish National Party (SNP)

How the grant is distributed

The grant is distributed based on a formula drawn up by the Electoral Commission and approved by Parliament. The first £1 million is distributed equally amongst the eligible parties. The second £1 million is divided based on the proportion of the registered electorate where the party contest elections (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), and weighted share of the vote received by each party in each part of the UK.

Calculation of the policy development grant for 2018-19: electoral statistics

In calculating the policy development grant allocations for the 2018-19 financial year, we are required to make use of the 1 December 2017 electorate data and publish it by 7 March. At this time the estimates are as follows:

Part of the UK 1 Dec 2017
England 38,386,864
Wales 2,243,919
Scotland 3,929,963
Northern Ireland 1,205,683

Note: the figures above are based on data returned to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) published in March 2017. The December 2017 official electoral statistics will be published by the Office for National Statistics and the National Records of Scotland on 22 March 2018. At that point the official figures will be used in place of the data above.

The allocations for each of the eligible parties will be calculated and notified to them later in March 2018.

The process for receiving the grant

Eligible parties must submit an application outlining their planned/intended policy development activities for the coming year. We review the application and if we approve it we advance up to 75% of their grant allocation.

At the end of the year parties submit a final cost report detailing their actual activities and expenditure. We visit the parties and review evidence that the policy activity eligible for support from PDG payments did take place, and also the evidence of expenditure so that the PDG money can be verified.
We will then pay or recover any amounts owing or recoverable depending on the outcome of these reviews.

It is common practice for parties to present evidence of spending on eligible activities in excess of their grant allocation both to ensure they receive the full amount and, for completeness to avoid having to select policy development activities not to claim for. The grant payable however is capped at their allocation.

Other public funds

There are also public funds paid by other bodies.

These are:

For more information on other public funds, please visit the relevant websites.

For enquiries, please contact us by telephone (0333 103 1928) or email (pef@electoralcommission.org.uk).

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