It has been confirmed that so-called “purdah”, the pre-election period during which there are restrictions on contacts with civil servants and campaigning by charities – which include religious charities, whether they are registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales or not – will begin tomorrow: Saturday 22 April.
All charities must make sure that they follow the appropriate campaigning guidance, and those that are registered with the Electoral Commission as third-party campaigners must begin weekly reporting to the Commission ahead of the General Election on 8 June. Any charity that is in any doubt about the rules should, first and foremost, consult the Electoral Commission’s guidance, Charities and Campaigning.
The three Charity Regulators have each issued individual guidance:
- Charity Commission for England & Wales: Charities, Elections and Referendums and Speaking out: guidance on campaigning and political activity by charities (CC9), which deals with the more general issues.
- Charity Commission for Northern Ireland: Charities and politics.
- Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator: Frequently Asked Questions: Charities and campaigning on political issues.
Apart from the specific rules on campaigning during the run-up to an election or referendum, the general rules on campaigning and political activity still apply.