Political parties and non-party campaigners accepting payments online
Published: 12 Jun 2019
Using online platforms to contribute small sums to political parties and non-party campaigners is an important and valuable way for voters to participate in our democracy. However, online platforms can open parties and campaigners to additional risk in relation to compliance with UK political finance law.
Visit to the Brexit Party
The Electoral Commission visited The Brexit Party on Tuesday 21 May to review the systems it has in place to receive funds. We have concluded that the fundraising structure adopted by the party leaves it open to a high and on-going risk of receiving and accepting impermissible donations. We have made recommendations that will, if implemented by the party, achieve and maintain robust procedures for receiving funds and help it comply with its legal requirements.
Louise Edwards, Director of Regulation at the Electoral Commission, said:
“It is legitimate for any political party or campaigner to adopt a fundraising strategy that focuses on raising small sums. Our visit to The Brexit Party has enabled us to make specific recommendations to the party that will support it to meet its legal responsibilities when it comes to receiving funds. Should it fail to meet those responsibilities, this will be considered in line with our Enforcement Policy.”
Raising funds online
Using online platforms to receive payments is not new. We have been advising parties and campaigners since 2015 about what checks and systems they need to have in place when raising funds online to ensure they comply with the law. We continue to recommend that all political parties and campaigners:
- check every payment that they receive online to make sure they have identified all donations and not accepted any that they are not entitled to; and
- request as much information as possible from people wanting to give funds, to be sure all payments are from a permissible source.
We will make any necessary wider recommendations on the workings of the political finance rules in operation at the European Parliamentary elections in our statutory report on the poll later this year.
Notes to editors
- The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work 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.
- To date, The Brexit Party has returned one donation with a value of £1,000 to the donor as the party could not identify whether it was from a permissible source. The law allows political parties to return a donation within 30 days if it is impermissible or it cannot be certain about the permissibility of a donation. It is required to report donations over £7,500 to the Commission for the period 1 April to 30 June at the end of July and this will be published in August.