Charity Commission to update guidance on lobbying

The Charity Commission will update its guidance on charities, elections and referendums, which supplements its guidance on campaigning and political activity, to explain the changes introduced by the The Lobbying Act, which received Royal Assent on 30 January.

The regulator of charities in England and Wales has stated that it will coordinate its guidance and work closely with the Electoral Commission, which is preparing guidance for all organisations affected by the legislation.

The Charity Commission is also encouraging charities to sign up for the campaigner updates, at, which the Electoral Commission will be publishing over the coming months.

The Lobbying Act changes the rules for non-party campaigners in the run up to elections. This includes the requirement for organisations to register with the Electoral Commission if they spend more than a set threshold, which varies for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, on certain activities during the regulated electoral period.

Regulated activities are those which are viewed under electoral law as to have the effect of influencing the outcome of an election, even though charities must never engage in party political activity there are circumstances where some of their campaigning activities may fall within this scope. 

The legislation sets limits for the amount that charities and other non-party campaigners can spend on such activity nationally and in each constituency during the regulated period. The changes come into force on 19 September 2014 and apply until the general election in 2015.

The Commission expects to publish its updated guidance this summer and will work closely with the Electoral Commission, as well as the charity regulators in Scotland and Northern Ireland to help charity trustees understand and comply with the new legislation.

To access the Commission’s current guidance on charities, elections and referendums, visit