Non-party campaigners: UK Parliamentary general elections

What are regulated campaign activities?

The non-party campaigning laws apply to spending on what we call ‘regulated campaign activities’ during the regulated period. Electoral law specifies the types of spending that will and will not be regulated for non-party campaigners.

These expenses are known as ‘controlled expenditure’ under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA).

Controlled expenditure

Controlled expenditure is any spending incurred in respect of regulated campaign activity. Schedule 8A PPERA sets out the list of qualifying expenses that fall within the regulatory regime.

Activities that may be regulated

Activities that may be regulated

Activities that may be regulated

PPERA specifically lists the following expenses as falling within the regulatory regime: 

  • the production or publication of material which is made available to the public at large or any section of the public (in whatever form and by whatever means)
  • canvassing, or market research seeking views or information from, members of the public
  • press conferences, or other media events, organised by or on behalf of the non-party campaigner
  • transport (by any means) of persons to any place or places with a view to obtaining publicity
  • expenses in respect of the transport of such persons include the costs of hiring a particular means of transport 
  • public rallies or other public events, other than:
    • annual conferences of the non-party campaigner
    • any public procession or protest meeting, within the meaning of the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, in respect of which notice is given in accordance with section 6 or 7 of that Act (advance notice of public processions or related protest meetings

Expenses in respect of such events include costs incurred in connection with the attendance of persons at such events, the hire of premises for the purposes of such events or the provision of goods, services or facilities at them. But expenses in respect of such events do not include costs incurred in providing for the protection of persons or property.

Activities that may be regulated

To assess whether an activity is regulated as a qualifying expense, we look at two factors:

  • the ‘purpose test’
  • whether the activity is ‘made available to the public’

Some activities only need to meet the purpose test to be regulated, while other activities will only be regulated if they are made available to the public in addition to meeting the purpose test.

The following pages provide detail on the purpose test and activities made available to the public.

The honest assessment principle

In all cases, you should make an honest and reasonable assessment, based on the facts, of the proportion of spending that can be fairly attributed to your regulated campaign activities.

Last updated: 24 November 2023