Guidance for Candidates and Agents at UK Parliamentary general elections in Northern Ireland

Assessing how to report spending

For each activity that you have established is candidate spending, you must remember to work out what type of spending it is, so you know how to report it:

If an item or service is provided to and made use of by or on behalf of the candidate, then the relevant proportion of the cost of targeting the candidate’s electoral area is likely to count as notional spending, if it meets the tests.

If the spending is not incurred by the candidate or agent and not provided to and made use of by or on behalf of the candidate, it will count as local campaigning for the candidate.

The following examples illustrate first determining whether the spending promotes the candidate, and then determining how it must be reported.

Example

Example A

A party holds an event in the constituency. The party leader attends and gives a speech. In the speech the leader only talks about national policies. The candidate is invited to attend and does so. They do not play any other part in the event.
The event does not identify the candidate either by name or through the electoral area.

Since the event does not identify the candidate, it does not count as spending to promote the candidate.

The spending on the event will be party spending if it takes place in a regulated period for parties.1

Example B

A party holds an event in the candidate’s electoral area. The party leader attends and gives a speech. In the speech the leader talks about national policies for most of the time but spends ten minutes talking specifically about the electoral area and the candidate. The candidate is invited to attend and does so. They do not play any other part in the event.

As the candidate and the electoral area are named, that section of the event counts as promoting the candidate.

Nothing has been provided to the candidate for them to use, so it is not notional spending. Rather, the party is campaigning for the candidate.

The spending on the proportion of the event which promotes the candidate is local campaigning for the candidate. The party must not incur expenses of more than £700 on promoting the candidate unless they have the agent’s written authorisation to do so.2

Example C

The party holds an event in the candidate’s electoral area. The party leader attends and gives a speech. In the speech the leader talks about national policies, but also invites the candidate to give their own speech for ten minutes of the time. The candidate accepts and gives the speech.

The candidate is identified by appearing on the stage, so that section of the event counts as promoting the candidate.

The party has provided the candidate with a facility – a slot at their event – and the candidate has made use of it by giving the speech.

This is notional spending. The appropriate value must be recorded in the candidate’s spending return and, where applicable, as a donation from the party.

Example D

The candidate holds an event in their electoral area, organised by their agent. Their party provides money to cover the costs of the event.

The candidate features centrally in the event so this is spending promoting the candidate. The spending has been incurred by the agent, so this is ordinary candidate spending and must appear on the return.

Any gift of money of over £50 provided by the party is a donation to the candidate and must be reported in the donations section of the return.3  See Candidate donations for more on reporting donations.

Last updated: 23 May 2024