The independent elections watchdog
and regulator of party and election finance

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Our role as regulator of political party finances

We are the regulator of political funding and spending. We:

  • make sure people understand the rules and try to prevent people breaking the rules
  • are able to investigate and impose sanctions when people do break the rules
  • publish data on political funding and spending

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) sets out rules about:

  • where political parties and other groups or individuals we regulate can receive funds from
  • how much they can spend on campaigning at certain elections
  • transparency in our political system

We work to ensure that people comply with these rules by:

  • providing advice and guidance to help people understand the rules
  • receiving, analysing and publishing information about party donations and campaign spending
  • monitoring how well  the rules are being followed
  • advising governments on changes to the rules and making recommendations for change 
  • dealing with possible breaches of the rules

We take a proportionate approach in making sure that what we do achieves our objectives. We:

  • target our resources where they will have the most impact, and
  • avoid unnecessary burdens on those we regulate.

There are also rules for candidates, agents and some other campaigners in the Representation of the People Act 1983 (RPA)

Advice and Guidance

We publish guidance for political parties, candidates and their agents, campaigners and other organisations and individuals who have responsibilities under PPERA.

Our guidance is here to help those we regulate to comply with the rules. We also provide advice and we are happy to answer questions about the rules. We run seminars, webinars and bespoke training.

We are here to help, so please get in touch. You can contact us by phone on our new number 0333 103 1928 or you can still use the old number 020 7271 0616 , or email pef@electoralcommission.org.uk or contact our offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Policy development

We advise government on proposed changes to the rules and make recommendations for change where we believe these would improve the system.
In July 2013, following a comprehensive review of the UK's current system of party and election finance regulation, we published a report of our findings, making recommendations to Government to update the law covering political parties and other campaigners. These changes will improve the information available to voters, increase the effectiveness of the rules and make obligations more proportionate for those that the Commission regulates.

Read our report following our review of the current regulatory system

Publishing information about donations, parties' accounts and spending

We publish information about the donations and loans, annual accounts, and campaign spending that parties and others are required to report to us:

We also provide summary information and analysis of quarterly donation reports and parties annual accounts:

Monitoring compliance

We check the information parties provide to us, and evaluate the risk of those we regulate to prioritise our compliance monitoring. In the run-up to major elections and referendums we also carry out targeted campaign monitoring to check that people are complying with the rules on spending and donations.

Breaches of the rules

We have enforcement powers to investigate allegations of potential breaches of the rules, as well as breaches we identify proactively. Where we are satisfied there has been a breach, we have powers to impose a range of sanctions. If we believe that the breach has a significant impact on confidence in the transparency and integrity of party and election finance, we can pass the matter to the police or prosecuting authority.

We publish summaries of the outcomes of all of our casework. Usually these are brief, but in some cases we publish a more detailed summary.

Roles and responsibilities