Non-party campaigners: UK Parliamentary general elections

What is the purpose test?

Spending on campaign activities by non-party campaigners is only regulated if it can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure the electoral success of:

  • one or more political parties
  • political parties or candidates who support or do not support particular policies or
  • another particular category of candidates1

by influencing voters at an upcoming election to vote in a particular way. See definition of relevant elections in Annex B.

Whether an activity can reasonably be regarded as intending to influence voters to vote in a particular way is commonly known as the ‘purpose test’.

Spending on the following activities is regulated if (i) it occurs in relation to a general campaign during a regulated period and (ii) meets the purpose test:

  • press conferences or other media events organised by the non-party campaigner
  • transport in connection with publicising the campaign
  • production or publication of campaign material which is made available to the public at large or any section of the public
  • canvassing and market research seeking views or information from members of the public
  • public rallies or other public events2


The following pages provide detail on how to apply the purpose test and examples of the above activities.

Last updated: 19 December 2023