Overview

There are limits on how much candidates can spend at an election, and controls on the sources of funding for that spending.

After elections, candidates and their agents have to submit a candidate spending return to the Returning Officer at the local council. The spending return lists what the candidate spent during the election campaign and also any donations they received.

For major contests, such as UK Parliamentary general elections, Returning Officers send copies of the candidate spending returns to us. We then make this data available for you to view.

Although we look at the returns to monitor compliance with the rules, we can’t take further action ourselves if we find inaccuracies.

It is the responsibility of the police to deal with any allegations that a return is inaccurate.

Spending limits

The spending limit for candidates depends on the constituency they are standing in.

The spending limit is calculated based on the number of eligible voters in a constituency. The more eligible voters there are, the higher the spending limit.

This is why the spending limit can vary greatly between constituencies. The smallest constituency has around 20,000 eligible voters, whereas the largest has over 100,000. 

Candidates and their agents are responsible for calculating their spending limit, using estimated figures from the Returning Officer.

Spending returns

The candidate spending returns include the total the candidate spent, as well as a breakdown of how much they spent on things like advertising, transport and public meetings. They also include any donations the candidate received above £50.

Explore the data

Use our tool to explore the data from the December 2019 UK Parliamentary general election.

The tool uses data taken from the spending returns that candidates submitted to Returning Officers across the UK.

We publish this information as it appears on the candidate’s return so that there is an accurate record of what was reported.

Information about candidates’ share of the vote in each constituency has been taken from data provided by the House of Commons Library in January 2020. This data may not reflect any subsequent revisions or updates made by local councils.

You can also download spreadsheets for the candidate spending returns data from the:

If you would like further information about any of the data included in the tool or our spreadsheets, you can contact us.

Reforming electoral law

We don’t have a responsibility to regulate or enforce candidate spending, and neither do Returning Officers.

Although we look at the returns to monitor compliance with the rules, we can’t take further action ourselves if we find inaccuracies.

It is the responsibility of the police to deal with any allegations that a return is inaccurate.

This is one area of electoral law that we want to see reformed.

We are responsible for enforcing the rules relating to party and campaigner spending, but continue to recommend that we should also have the powers to enforce the candidate spending rules and to sanction breaches.

Find out about other changes to electoral law we want to see.