Public funding for political parties

Policy Development Grants

Each year, we have £2 million from UK Parliament to allocate to political parties as a Policy Development Grant.

The grant gives political parties the funds to develop policies to include in their election manifestos.

The grant is only available to parties with at least two sitting members of the House of Commons, who have taken the oath of allegiance.

We distribute the first £1 million of the grant equally between the eligible parties.

We then use a formula to calculate how much of the remaining £1 million parties. The formula is based on the:

  • proportion of the registered electorate where the party contests elections (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
  • share of the vote the party received in each part of the UK

In our calculations, we use electorate data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). These are the figures we used in this year’s calculations:

Part of the UKElectorate
Northern Ireland1,248,420

When we have calculated how much each party can apply for, we invite them to submit their application. The application needs to include the policy development activities the party is planning for the year ahead.

Parties will often include all of their policy development activities, even if the total cost is more than the amount they can apply for.

If we approve the application, we give up to 75% of the grant in advance.

At the end of the year, parties submit a final cost report including their actual activities and what they spent. Their spending then goes through an audit process. 

We then will either pay the party the full amount of the grant, or we will recover the grant we paid in advance if the party didn’t spend it on policy development activities. If we recover any grants, it goes back to the government’s consolidated fund.

Other public funds

Political parties can also receive funding from parliamentary bodies. This includes:

  • Short Money, which the House of Commons pays to opposition parties
  • Cranborne Money, which the House of Lords pays to the opposition and second largest opposition party in the House of Lords
  • Financial Assistance, which the Scottish Parliament pays to opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament
  • Financial Assistance, which the Northern Ireland Assembly pays to opposition parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly 

When we publish information

We include information about the public funding political parties have received when we publish the donations four times a year. 

We also comment on public funding in our annual report

Last updated: 26 July 2019
Next review: 10 July 2020