We understand that some political parties will be holding digital conferences and other meetings which would otherwise have been held in person as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have prepared some FAQ’s below which we hope you find useful.
If you have any further questions about this, or any other issues arising from the pandemic, please contact our advice service.
The PPERA sponsorship rules apply to online conferences and meetings in the same way as they apply to physical conferences and meetings. Accordingly, certain payments made in connection with “defined expenses” to political parties for online conferences will be treated as sponsorship payments. This means the donation rules will apply to those payments.
Defined expenses are payments given to help meet the cost of:
- Any conference or event (including digital)
- The preparation, production, or distribution of a publication (including digital publications)
- Any study or research
For more information, please see our guidance on sponsorship.
First you should determine whether payments you receive are considered sponsorship for the purposes of PPERA or not.
Any payments made towards meeting the cost of an event will be considered sponsorship. This will mean the entire payment will be considered a donation.
Advertising payments that do not help to meet the costs of an event do not count as sponsorship, so are treated under the normal donation rules. Any amounts you receive above the commercial value will be considered a donation.
Adverts in an online handbook will be exempt from the sponsorship rules in the same way as adverts in a physical handbook. Therefore the normal rules apply and only money provided over the commercial value for the adverts will be a donation.
The PPERA rules for digital conference stands apply in the same way as physical stands. A digital conference stand will contain the following features:
- The stand must only be available for hire for the duration of the digital conference
- There must be some level of interaction between attendees and exhibitor
- The stand must be live
- An advert or banner (or something similar) on the conference website or hosting platform (note: an advert on a website without the other elements would not, in itself, be a digital conference stand)
If you believe you are receiving payments towards digital conference stands, please refer to the answer to the following question for how you should treat these payments.
Under PPERA, payments parties receive towards conference stands at their conferences are subject to a non-donation rate determined by the Commission. The donation rules only apply to payments above this rate.
The current rate set by the Commission for physical stands is £15,000 (excluding VAT) for a 3m x 3m conference stand.
The Commission will not be setting a fixed non-donation rate for digital conference stands for the 2020 party conference season given time constraints. For this year, we are setting a variable level, defined as the fair market value. Any amount received above the fair market level for a digital conference stand will be considered a donation if it is in excess of £500.
The Commission intends to review the rate for physical conference stands and set a rate for digital conference stands ahead of the 2021 party conference season.
We appreciate that you may be unsure how PPERA applies to particular payments you receive towards your digital events. If you are unsure, please contact us in order that we can advise you.
The fair market value is the price someone would expect to receive in the general market.
In some cases, if you are unable to identity an exact match, you may need to look at the price of goods or services which are similar.
In the case of digital conference stands, you may wish to look at what is charged for a stand at a different high end digital conference, or other forms of enhanced online advertising.
In practice, this is the same procedure you should go through for assessing the market value of any other form of advertising that you sell.
You should make an honest and reasonable assessment of the fair market value for the goods or services you are selling. You must record any decisions you make and how you arrived at them.