What spending is regulated?

If you spend money on one of the five activities during a regulated period, you need to apply two tests to your spending to decide if it is regulated: 

  • the purpose test
  • the public test

For your spending to be regulated, it must meet the purpose test.

In addition, for three types of activity, the public test must also be met.

The purpose test

The purpose test is met if your activity can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against:

  • one or more political parties
  • political parties or candidates that support or do not support particular policies
  • other categories of candidates, for example, candidates who went to a state school, or independent candidates (who are not standing in the name of a political party) 

This test applies to any of the five campaign activities.

The public test

The public test is met if your activity is aimed at the public or a section of the public.

Your members and committed supporters do not count as members of the public.

This test applies to:

  • election material
  • canvassing and market research
  • public rallies or public events

For more details on the public test, please see pages 7-8 of 

It is important that you think carefully when applying the tests for regulated spending, because there are electoral offences linked to failing to follow the rules. 

Most of the rest of this guidance document focuses on how to apply the purpose test to your campaign activities.

Last updated: 24 May 2021