The UK Government is proposing to clarify the rules for candidates and agents that relate to notional spending.
Notional spending describes services or goods that are transferred or given to candidates, for free or at a discount. It relates to any goods or services that a candidate uses or which benefits their campaign, such as leaflets produced at a discounted cost.
In July 2018, the Supreme Court confirmed how the notional spending rules work for candidates and agents. It made clear that any candidate making use of notional spending must report it and include it when calculating spend against the candidate’s spending limit. The UK Government’s proposals would define when notional spending must be reported by the candidate, such that spending must be directed, authorised or encouraged by the candidate or their agent.
The proposals would also apply to notional spending on behalf of parties and other campaigners.
The notional spending rules ensure campaigners properly account for and report all goods, services and materials that are donated to them, and which they use to help them in any way with their campaign activities.
Candidates need to be clear when something is notional spending because it counts towards their total campaign spend, which must not exceed the specified spending limit. This limit ensures a fixed ceiling on campaign spending and is one of the ways to ensure fairness.