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General Election spending returns for larger parties published

Published: 19 Mar 2018

Seven political parties and two non-party campaigners reported spending a total of just under £40 million at the 2017 UK Parliamentary general election, as shown in new figures published by the Electoral Commission.

Political parties and non-party campaigners that spent over £250,000 during the regulated period for the general election – which ran from Thursday 9 June 2016 to polling day, Thursday 8 June 2017 – were required by law to submit audited spending returns to the Commission by 8 December 2017.

The political parties in Great Britain that reported spending greater than £250,000:

Party nameExpenditure
Conservative and Unionist Party (GB)£18,565,102
Labour Party£11,003,980
Liberal Democrats£6,788,316
Scottish National Party (SNP)£1,623,127
Green Party£299,352
Women's Equality Party£285,662
UK Independence Party (UKIP)£273,104

The two non-party campaigners that reported spending greater than £250,000:

Non-party Campaigner NameExpenditure
UK-EU Open Policy Limited (Best for Britain)£353,118
National Union of Teachers£326,306

While preparing the spending returns for publication, it was necessary for the Commission to liaise with a number of parties and non-party campaigners to obtain additional information, to ensure when published, their spending returns as far as possible complied with the legal requirements. It has become necessary for the Commission to open investigations in some instances to determine the extent of compliance with the requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) 2000 when the returns were initially submitted. These investigations will examine whether or not the rules in PPERA were broken, and if they were, appropriate sanctions will be imposed.

Details of enforcement action relating to political parties

  • The Conservative Party, Green Party and the Labour Party are under investigation for submitting spending returns that were missing invoices and for submitting potentially inaccurate statements of payments made.
  • The Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats are under investigation for making multiple payments to suppliers where either the claim for payment was received past the 30 day deadline or it was paid after the 60 day deadline following the election. These deadlines are specified in law.
  • The Women’s Equality Party is under investigation for submitting a spending return that was inconsistent with its donation reports covering the same period.

Details of enforcement action relating to non-party campaigners

  • Best for Britain is under investigation for submitting a spending return that was missing invoices. The campaigner is also under investigation for not returning a £25,000 donation from an impermissible donor within 30 days as required by PPERA.
  • The National Union for Teachers is under investigation for submitting a spending return that was missing an invoice.

Bob Posner, Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel at the Electoral Commission, said:

“It is vital that voters are given an opportunity to see accurate and full reportable data on what parties and campaigners spent money on in order to influence them at last year’s general election. This provides transparency in the political finance system and is open for anyone to scrutinise.

“We are investigating possible breaches of the rules. However, our on-going discussions with the major parties indicate to us that they may wish to consider the robustness of their internal governance and level of resourcing to ensure they can deliver what the law requires.”

Taking into account the Commission’s November publication of political parties and non-party campaigners that spent £250,000 or less, the release of today's information means there was a total reported spend by a combination of 75 parties and 18 non-party campaigners of £41,587,450 at the 2017 general election. In comparison, at the 2015 General Election there was a total reported spend of £39,023,564 by 57 parties and 23 non-party campaigners.

In addition to the overall expenditure, political parties and non-party campaigners allocate all spending against one of nine categories. Details by category, as well as copies of individual invoices and receipts can be found on the Commission’s website here.

The investigations that have been opened are in line with the Commission’s Enforcement Policy. Details of all sanctions are published on a monthly basis. The time taken to undertake an investigation varies on a case-by-case basis.

Ends

For more information, contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk Out of office hours 07789 920414

Notes to editors

1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. It works to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

2. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000) introduced controls on campaign expenditure by political parties contesting UK Parliamentary elections. Political parties and non-party campaigners that spent £250,000 or less were required to submit their returns by 8 September 2017. Parties with expenditure over £250,000 must deliver an audited report to the Commission within six months of the election.

3. Any political party that stood more than one candidate at the election was required to submit a campaign expenditure return to the Commission. Reported spending for parties does not cover some costs (e.g. staffing) and candidate spending is reported separately.

4. Non-party campaigners must register with the Commission before they can spend more than £20,000 on campaigning in England, or £10,000 in any of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and are required to submit an expenditure return if they campaigned and spent over these sums of money at the UK Parliamentary General election.

5. Figures in this press release are rounded to the nearest £.

6. The following spending does not count as campaign spending for parties so is not required to be reported:

  • Permanent, fixed term or temporary staff costs where the staff member has a direct employment contract with the party
  • Volunteer time
  • Office running costs
  • People's travel, food and accommodation costs while they campaign, unless you reimburse them
  • Expenses met out of public funds. For example, security costs for VIP visits
  • Anything which a candidate declares on their spending return

7. For political parties that are contesting the UKPGE in Great Britain, the amount a party can spend is whichever the greater is of:

Either:

Part of GBSpending limit
England£810,000
Scotland£120,000
Wales£60,000

Or:

£30,000 x the number of seats the party is contesting in each part of Great Britain. Each part of Great Britain has a separate limit based on the number of seats the party is contesting in each area.

Part of GBTotal number of seats that can be contested
England533
Scotland59
Wales40

If a party contested the maximum number of seats in its own name in each of England, Scotland and Wales, the limits would be £15,990,000 in England (533 x £30,000), £1,770,000 (59 x £30,000) in Scotland and £1,200,000 (40 x £30,000) in Wales. A total of £18,960,000.

Journalist