New implications for charity campaigns

  • Dods have revealed new research showcasing how the Lobbying Bill could hinder charity campaigns.

    In September the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-part Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill will be given its second reading in the Commons. In section two of the Bill, provisions intended to stop third party spending in general election campaigns having "undue influence". This is due to government's claims of a lack of transparency in the way that third parties campaign in elections resulting in expenditure not being captured.

    This means that organisations such a charities that spend more than £5,000 on campaigns in the year leading up to elections will now have to register with the Electoral Commission as a third party. This means that they will then have to comply under the new national and constituency spending limits which could have an impact on campaign coalitions.

    Organisations working with other non-party campaigners on a joint campaign will have costs incurred count separately against each organisations limit and the limits of other campaigners within current rules. A lower expenditure limit is a likely dis-incentive organisation forming coalitions.

    Dods have analysed the Bill and said that the potential impact of this measure is twofold.

    There will now be a limit on third part organisations on how much they can spend within each constituency, which under the tighter definition of election material, could be an easily reached limit. It is unclear in the legislation if staff remuneration costs would have to be factored into electoral spending. There is no explicit mention of staff costing's having to be included. There will also be an additional burden on administration of reporting.

    The Bill also requires third parties to submit quarterly reporting of donations during the regulated period, and weekly reporting of donations between the dissolution of Parliament and polling day. Accounts will also have to be published when they provide their post-election report to the Electoral Commission, just like political parties.

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