The UK Government 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 were postponed on 7 April and all other elections which were due to be held in May 2020 were postponed on 25 March 2020.
The UK Government has 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
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.
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, which is the date this new law came into force.
The new law does not apply to parish council by-elections.
We have produced some FAQs below. If you have any further questions, please contact our advice service.
No. You will not be required to submit a return of election expenses for the elections which did not take place this year.
Any spending on items, goods or services you use later during a regulated period for a future election will be reportable and count towards your spending limit for that election in accordance with the usual rules.
We will publish guidance later this year for the elections due to take place in May 2021.
You should ensure that you have a record of any spending which promoted your candidacy for the postponed elections. This is because you may need to report it in your spending return should you make use of it during the regulated period for a future election.
You should also ensure you keep any invoices or receipts for purchases made of over £20 in case you need to submit these with your return in future.
The regulated period for candidates begins the day after someone officially becomes a candidate. This date can be different for different elections. Generally, the earliest date someone can become a candidate is the final day of publication of notice of election.
The Commission will publish a timetable and guidance ahead of the polls but the final dates for publication of notice of an election taking place in May 2021 are likely to be around late March 2021.
You will not be required to report any donations you received towards your election campaign in your return of election expenses. This is because there is no requirement to submit a return for the postponed elections.
However, if you are an existing office holder and have received donations towards your re-election campaign, you may need to report donations to the Commission in your capacity as a regulated donee.
The new legislation extends the deadline for when action must be taken for certain donations you may have received until 30 November 2020. Please refer to the table below for what you must report to the Commission, when you must check and take action in relation to those donations.
If you have received any donations either before you officially became a candidate, or on or after 22 September 2020, the usual rules will apply and you should refer to our guidance for regulated donees on our website. You can also find the forms required to report on these pages too.
Donations received or accepted on or after the date you officially became a candidate and before 22 September 2020:
|What you must report||When must action be taken in relation to a donation||When you must report the donation to the Commission by|
|Any impermissible donations you received over £500 towards your re-election campaign||You will have until 30 November to return the donation to the donor, or to send the donation to the Commission if returning the donation is not possible.||You will have until 30 November to report the donation to the Commission.|
|Any unidentifiable donations you received over £500 towards your re-election campaign||If the donation is not permissible or you cannot determine whether it is, you also have until 30 November to either return it to the donor or send the donation to the Commission if returning the donation is not possible.||You will have until 30 November to report the donation to the Commission.|
|Any permissible donations you accepted of over £1,500 (singular or cumulative with smaller donations) towards your re-election campaign||You will have until 30 November to report the donation to the Commission.|
Some political parties hold donations on behalf of their candidates in fighting funds. Generally speaking, donations to political parties are handled under the party donation rules, unless the donations they receive are made specifically towards a candidate’s election campaign. In this case the party may be holding donations on your behalf.
Any donations held on your behalf must be made available for your use on your election campaign.
If you were standing for re-election in a postponed election, you may need to report any donations held in a fighting fund on your behalf to the Commission in your capacity as a regulated donee. Please refer to the answer to the question above for guidance on what you must do if this is the case.