Non-party campaigners: UK Parliamentary general elections

About this guidance

Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), there are spending, donations and reporting laws that apply depending on how much you spend at a UK Parliamentary general election (UKPGE), starting at spending above £700. The law sets out how much particular individuals and organisations can spend, and the registration and reporting requirements that will apply.

We call individuals and organisations who are thinking of campaigning in the run-up to an election but are not standing as a political party or candidate ‘non-party campaigners’. Political parties, candidates and non-party campaigners are vital to a healthy democracy, and we encourage active participation by campaigners. 

Carrying out regulated campaign activities is a valid choice for campaigners to make. However, where there is spending on regulated campaigning, there are laws that must be followed to ensure that this is transparent. This includes adding details to election material to show who is responsible for its publication (known as ‘imprints’) and complying with limits on spending and reporting requirements.

This guidance provides detail on these laws and how they will apply to you if you are spending money on regulated campaign activities. 

Background

Background

The Elections Act 2022 introduced a new duty on the Electoral Commission to produce a Code of Practice on the laws relating to non-party campaigner spending. The Code is different from other types of guidance that we produce because it has been approved by the UK Parliament. The Code applies to elections to the UK Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Commission must have regard to the Code when exercising its functions under Part 6 of PPERA. This part sets out the laws for non-party campaigners at PPERA elections. It is a statutory defence for a non-party campaigner to show that they complied with the Code in determining whether their campaign activity was regulated.

This non-statutory guidance for non-party campaigners at UKPGEs supplements the Code with additional information, advice and examples to help you understand the laws. We have also provided case studies of real campaigns to guide you in determining what limits or reporting apply to your campaign activities.

Where wording is from the Code this will be contained in red text boxes.

Key terms are explained throughout and provided in an alphabetical list at the end of the guidance.

Who is this guidance for?

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for individuals and organisations who are thinking of campaigning in the run-up to an election but are not standing as a political party or candidate.

Terms and expressions we use

In this guidance we use ‘must’ when we refer to a specific legal requirement. We use ‘should’ for items we consider to be minimum good practice, but which are not legal requirements.

We use ‘you’ when we refer to the individual or organisation spending or intending to spend money on campaigning ahead of an election.

Updates to our guidance

Date of updateDescription of change
December 2023

Updates to reflect the new spending limits