NI parties accept £594k in donations in third quarter of 2023

Parties accept £594k in donations in third quarter of 2023

Political parties registered in Northern Ireland reported accepting £594,067 in donations and public funds during the third quarter of 2023 according to figures published today by the Electoral Commission.

This compares to £481,149 accepted in the same period in 2022 (July to September).

Cahir Hughes, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said:

“Over half a million pounds of donations were accepted by political parties in Northern Ireland in three months. We know that voters are interested in where parties get their money from, and this publication is an important part of delivering this transparency for voters.

“However, it’s clear that publishing this information is not enough. We’ve seen for some time that public confidence in the transparency of party and campaigner finance across the UK is declining. We continue to recommend to the UK Government that it introduces laws to help protect parties from those who seek to evade the law and give voters more confidence in the process by requiring more checks on the identity of donors.”

The political parties to report donations in Q3 2023 were:

PartyTotal reportedDonations accepted (excl public funds)Public funds acceptedTotal accepted
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland£47,438£16,500£30,938£47,438
Conservative and Unionist Party£7,369£7,369£0£7,369
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)£92,494£0£92,494£92,494
Social Democratic and Labour Patry (SDLP)£137,011£7,500£122,011£129,511
Sinn Féin£294,257£207,070£87,186£294,257
Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV)£6,767£0£6,767£6,767
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)£16,232£0£16,232£16,232
Total£601,567£238,439£355,628£594,067

Political parties are required to submit quarterly donation and loan returns to the Electoral Commission. Within these returns, parties report:

  • donations accepted above the £7,500 threshold (£1,500 for accounting units)
  • smaller donations from a single donor which exceed the reporting threshold when taken together
  • impermissible donations they have received and action taken by the party in relation to these
  • donations which ought to have been reported in previous quarters

The value of donations reported by a political party to the Commission may be different to the value of donations it actually accepted in that quarter. This can be due to aggregated donations, impermissible donations, and/or late reported donations.

From 1 January 2024, the threshold for reporting donations to the Commission will increase. Following a change in law by the UK Government, parties will be required to report donations over £11,180 (and over £2,230 for accounting units).

Further Information

We have also published the donations and loans for parties across the United Kingdom today.

Full details of donations and public funds for political parties in Northern Ireland are available on our political finance register, as are details for political parties in Great Britain.

Ends

For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office in Belfast on 028 9089 4032 out of office hours 07789 920 414 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission has recommended for some time that the UK Government and Parliament consider with us how to improve the controls on donations and loans given low public confidence levels and concerns about foreign interference in UK politics.
    We continue to recommend reforms that would give voters greater confidence in UK political finance, including the introduction of a duty on parties to carry out enhanced due diligence and risk assessments on donations, adapted from money laundering regulations. 
  2. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) requires registered parties to report cash and non-cash donations and borrowing to the Electoral Commission on a quarterly basis. Political parties must report all donations and borrowing over £7,500 relating to the central party, or over £1,500 relating to an accounting unit. This includes aggregates of donations and loans from the same source during the calendar year. Once the central party has reported a donation or aggregate donation over £7,500 it must report each subsequent donation of more than £1,500 from that source. 
  3. As parties only report donations and loans over these thresholds, the figures do not include all donations and loans to political parties. Donations and loans under these thresholds are recorded in political parties’ annual statements of accounts. 
  4. Public funds are donations from the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Electoral Commission. ‘Short’ and ‘Cranborne’ grants are available to parties in opposition in the House of Commons or House of Lords respectively. 
  5. Some donations appear on the register as being from the Electoral Commission. These are Policy Development Grants, which were established by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 for parties represented in the Commons by two or more sitting members. The grants are intended to assist parties in developing the policies that they will present in an election manifesto. The legislation provides the total sum of £2 million annually for all eligible political parties for this purpose. Policy Development Grants became reportable as donations for the first time in quarter three of 2006 as a result of the Electoral Administration Act 2006. 
  6. There were 30 registered political parties in Northern Ireland during quarter three 2023. Nine were required to submit a quarterly donation report and one to submit borrowing information within the deadline. The remaining political parties have previously submitted four consecutive nil returns. Providing they have not received donations in the last quarter, they are exempt from submitting a report.