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Short Money – funding to support opposition parties – was introduced in 1975.

Short Money is made available to all opposition parties in the House of Commons that secured either two seats, or one seat and more than 150,000 votes, at the previous General Election. Short Money is not available to parties whose Members have not sworn the oath. A separate analogous scheme, Representative Money, was introduced in 2006 for parties whose Members had not taken the oath.

The Short Money scheme has three components:

  • Funding to assist an opposition party in carrying out its Parliamentary business
  • Funding for the opposition parties’ travel and associated expenses
  • Funding for the running costs of the Leader of the Opposition’s office

The scheme is administered under a resolution of the House of 26 May 1999, as amended by a resolution of 23 March 2016, and consolidated and updated by the Members Estimate Committee.

The amounts available to the parties from the first two components are calculated, as set out below, and the third element is a flat rate:

  • General funding for Opposition Parties – the amount payable to qualifying parties from 1 April 2020 is £18,297.43 for every seat won at the last election plus £36.54 for every 200 votes gained by the party.
  • Travel Expenses for Opposition Parties – the total amount payable under this component of the scheme for the financial year commencing on 1 April 2020 is £201,007.00 apportioned between each of the Opposition parties in the same proportion as the amount given to each of them under the basic funding scheme set out above.
  • Leader of the Opposition’s Office – under the third component of the scheme, £852,481.98 is available for the running costs of the Leader of the Opposition’s office for the financial year commencing on 1 April 2020.

Each component is uprated annually on 1 April by the percentage increase in the consumer price index in the year to the previous December. Allocations throughout a Parliament are based on the results of the previous General Election. In a general election year, amounts payable are revised.

The funding available to parties with no more than five Members is subject to a floor and ceiling, set at 50% and 150%, respectively, of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s staffing budget for non-London area MPs. For 2020/21:

  • The floor is set at £88,775
  • The ceiling is set at £266,325

In the 2019 Parliament, three parties have five or fewer MPs. Both the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, parties with one and four MPs, respectively, qualified for funding between the floor and ceiling. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), with two MPs, is entitled to the minimum level of funding because the formula would have given it an amount below the floor.

The table below reports the amounts the qualifying political parties in the 2019 Parliament are able to claim in 2020/21.

Short Money allocations, 2020/21 (£): annual limits

 

General

Travel

LOTO*

Total

DUP

190,958.24

4,744.57

195,702.81

Green Party

176,442.55

4,383.96

180,826.51

Labour Party

5,572,227.16

138,447.39

852,481.98

6,563,156.53

Liberal Democrats

876,604.01

21,780.11

898,384.12

Plaid Cymru

101,179.36

2,513.99

103,693.35

SDLP

88,775.00

2205.65

90,980.65

Scottish National Party

1,083,932.87

26,931.32

1,110,864.19

Note: LOTO is the Leader of the Opposition’s Office Source: House of Commons, HR and Finance

Parties claiming Short Money must provide the Accounting Officer of the House of Commons (the Clerk of the House) with an auditor’s certificate confirming that all expenses claimed were incurred exclusively in relation to the party’s Parliamentary business. In addition, parties have to provide information on staff employed and other costs funded through Short Money.

The required reports from qualifying parties from the 2016/17 financial year onwards can be found on the Financial Assistance to Opposition Parties section of the House of Commons’ Freedom of Information webpages.

 


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