Electoral Commission recommends big increases to 2015 expense limits

Here’s the gist of what the Electoral Commission is recommending (and this is an area where what it recommends is almost certain to happen):

Bank notesTo take into account the lengthening of the election timetable from 17 to 25 working days and the increased cost of postage, the UK Government should make the following changes to the UK Parliamentary general election spending limits for the period between the dissolution of Parliament and polling day (the “short” campaign):

  • The current base amount of £7,150 for the short campaign spending limit should be increased by 47%. Rounding this figure up to the nearest £50 would provide a new base amount of £10,550.
  • The variable top-ups for the short campaign spending limit should be increased by 24% (rounded to the nearest pence) from:
    • 5p per voter to 6p per voter in Borough/Burgh constituencies
    • 7p per voter to 9p per voter in County constituencies

Changes to the election timetable caused by the introduction of fixed term Parliaments will reduce the pre-candidacy (“long” campaign) spending limit by 10%. Taking into account the low level of spending during this period in 2010, we think this reduction is appropriate and will not restrict candidates’ ability to communicate with voters.

Our proposed changes would increase the average short campaign spending limit from £11,550 to £16,050. With the amended election timetable and the resulting reduction in the long spending limit by 10%, the average long campaign spending limit will reduce from an average of £29,350 to £26,450. This means the average net increase to the combined spending limits at UKPGEs [United Kingdom Parliamentary General Elections] will be £1,600 or a 4% increase…

The UK Government should increase the variable top-up for local government elections in England and Wales (LGEWs) by 24% to take into account the increase in the cost of postage. Rounding this increase to the nearest pence would change the variable top-up from 5p to 6p. We do not recommend any increase to the base amount for LGEWs.

The change to the variable top-up would increase the average spending limit from £850 to £900 – a 6% increase.

And here’s the full background:

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