May 2020 and local council by-election (England and Wales) postponed election candidate guidance


The UK and Welsh Governments have introduced legislation to postpone certain elections, including those due to be held in May 2020 until May 2021, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Local council by-elections in England were postponed on 7 April and all other elections which were due to be held in May 2020 in England were postponed on 25 March 2020. In Wales, local council by-elections were postponed on 5 May 2020.  

The UK and Welsh Governments have now introduced further legislation to void the candidacy of those people who legally became a candidate before the elections were postponed. This new legislation is now in force.

The new legislation is relevant to anyone who legally became a candidate at any of the following elections:

  • Elections for the Greater London Assembly (GLA), including Mayor of London
  • Postponed local authority by-elections in England and Wales

This guidance only applies to the elections specified above. If you have any queries about other postponed elections in any part of the UK, please contact us for advice.  

Generally, the earliest date someone can become a candidate is the final date for publication of notice of election. You will have become a candidate on this date if you announced your intention to stand at some point before that date. The position is different for people who appear on their party’s London wide party list, who would have become a candidate the day their party’s agent submitted the party’s list to the returning officer for the election.     

For the Mayor of London and constituency candidates at GLA elections, the earliest date someone could have become a candidate was 24 March 2020. 

For local council by-elections in England and Wales, the earliest date someone can become a candidate is 25 working days before a poll. 

Accordingly, some people may have officially become a candidate for an election before the election was postponed by legislation. This new law applies to those candidates - it voids their candidacy and removes their legal obligations as a candidate.  

This means that those persons whose candidacy for an election is voided by the new legislation are not required to submit a return of election expenses for the postponed election. Any candidate spending they have incurred or donations they have received ahead of the postponed elections are no longer required to be reported in a return for that election. 

Candidates who were standing for re-election 

If you were standing for re-election, there may be donations which would have otherwise have been reportable in your candidate return, which now must be reported to the Commission in your capacity as a regulated donee. This will apply to any donations towards your re-election campaign that you received between the date you officially became a candidate and 22 September 2020 in England or 4 December 2020 in Wales, which are the dates the new laws came into force. 

This does not apply to parish or community council by-elections.
We have produced some FAQs below. If you have any further questions, please contact our advice service.