Guidance for Candidates and Agents at local government elections in England

How do you decide if you can accept a donation

Donations can only be accepted from certain sources, which are mainly UK-based.1  Please see Who can you accept donations from? for details on which sources are permissible.

Before you accept any donation of more than £50 for the purpose of meeting election expenses, you must take all reasonable steps to:

  • make sure you know the true identity of the donor
  • check that the donation is from a permissible source2

If it is not completely clear who you should treat as the donor, you should check the facts to make sure.

How long do you have to check permissibility?

When you receive a donation, you have 30 days to conduct permissibility checks and return it if it is impermissible.3  If you keep a donation longer than 30 days, you are deemed to have accepted it.4

If you keep an impermissible donation after this time, you may commit a criminal offence and we may apply to court to have it forfeited to us for payment into the Consolidated Fund.5  If you’ve accepted an impermissible donation, you should tell us as soon as possible.

Even if you have made a permissibility check in connection with an earlier donation from the same source, you should consider whether to make a fresh check for each subsequent donation.

You should keep a record of all your permissibility checks to show that you have followed the law.

If the donation isn’t from a permissible donor, or for any reason you can’t be sure of the true identity of the source, please read How do you return a donation? for further guidance on the actions you must take.

Last updated: 7 December 2023