The independent elections watchdog
and regulator of party and election finance

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Candidate spending and donations at elections

There are rules on how much candidates can spend on their campaigns and where they receive their funding from. This page contains an overview of those rules.

There are two types of spending by, or on behalf of, parties at elections. These are:

Candidate spending is when a candidate authorises campaigning to promote them at an election. For example, leaflets, billboard advertising, websites and campaign staff costs.

Rules on spending and donations

There are limits on candidate spending at elections and controls on the sources of funding for that spending. After the election, candidates’ agents must account for the costs of campaigning and donations to the campaign in a spending return.

Returning Officers must receive spending returns from all candidates by a certain date, which varies depending on the election. The Returning Officer is then responsible for making the returns available for public inspection.

At major contests, such as UK Parliamentary elections, Returning Officers send copies of the spending returns to us. We can then use these returns to monitor compliance with the rules and publish headline spending and donations data from these returns on our website.

Guidance on candidate spending and donations

If you are a candidate, or an agent for a candidate standing for election, please read our guidance for candidates and agents.

Political parties, campaigning & donations