Guidance for Candidates and Agents at Greater London Authority elections

Who is responsible for candidate spending and donations?

Candidates and their agents must follow certain rules about how much they can spend, who they can accept donations from, and what they must report after the election.

The election agent has the main responsibility for complying with these rules, even if they appoint a sub-agent to help you with your expenses.

However, after the election, both the candidate and the agent must sign declarations to say that their spending and donation return is complete and correct to the best of their knowledge.

This means that candidates also need to be fully aware of the rules. 


The rules apply to spending on activities to promote your candidacy, or to criticise other candidates, during a particular period in the run-up to the election. This period is called the ‘regulated period’. When we use the term ‘regulated period’ we mean the time when spending limits and laws apply.

Candidate spending includes any expenses incurred, whether on goods, services, property or facilities, for the purposes of the candidate’s election during the regulated period.

By ‘incur’ we mean make a legal commitment to spend money, such as confirming an order.

This includes:

  • items or services bought before the regulated period begins, but used during it
  • the value items or services given to you free of charge or at a non-commercial discount of more than 10% - known as ‘notional spending’

There are rules covering:

  • who can authorise spending and pay for items and services
  • how much you can spend
  • which activities count towards your spending limit
  • deadlines for receiving and paying invoices
  • what records you must keep
  • how and when you report your spending

Candidate spending is often known as ‘expenses’. Sometimes, people think this means that spending can be reclaimed from the local council, or from us, the Electoral Commission. This is not the case. You are not entitled to recover any spending from public funds.

You can find out more about reporting candidate spending after the election in Candidate spending.


Candidates can only accept donations of money, items or services towards their campaign spending from certain mainly UK-based sources, and must report them to the local returning officer after the election.

This includes donations from your local party.

If an election agent is appointed, donations must be passed to them as quickly as possible. The agent must then check whether or not the donation can be accepted.

Both the candidate and the agent must sign a declaration on their expenses return to say that the donation return is complete and correct to the best of their knowledge. So the candidate needs to make sure that their agent is following the rules.

If no agent has been appointed, the candidate is responsible for handling and checking donations.  

You can find out more about reporting donations after the election in Candidate donations.

Last updated: 4 December 2023