The Electoral Commission has released guidance for organisations that spend significant amounts of money on issues-based campaigns to assess whether that spending is regulated by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (also known as the 'Lobbying Act').
The new guidance contains a section for charities and other organisations that have restrictions on their political activities.
The guidance states 'If you are a charity and abide by charity law and guidance from the relevant charity regulator, in most circumstances your campaign activity is unlikely to meet the purpose test.' The purpose test is met if an activity can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against one or more political parties, political parties that support or do not support particular policies or other categories of candidates. For spending to be regulated, it must meet this test.
However the guidance also notes that charities should be aware of the non-party campaigner rules in case activities do meet the purpose test. This is particularly applicable in the run up to a general election, as in the past charities have conducted campaigns that met the tests for regulated spending. The guidance is accompanied by case studies of issues-based campaigning, to help charities apply the purpose test to their own campaigns.
The full guidance can be accessed here.