Baroness Sherlock’s review of the lobbying act will recommend that, after it abolishes the act, a Labour government should increase the thresholds for registration as non-party campaigners with the Electoral Commission and produce clearer guidance for charities on the regulation of campaigning, Third Sector understands.
Last May, the Labour Party asked Sherlock, a Labour peer and former charity chief executive, to review the lobbying act and consult third sector organisations about the regulation of campaigning. Her review is due to be published on Monday on Labour’s Your Britain website.
Labour has long pledged that it would repeal the lobbying act, which would mean that the provisions it amended in the Political Parties, Election and Referendums Act 2000 would come back into force.
Although the lobbying act doubled the PPERA thresholds for spending at which an organisation has to register with the Electoral Commission, it also significantly increased the number of regulated activities that count towards that spending.
Under PPERA, only written materials available to the public and costs associated with producing these were regulated. The thresholds under PPERA were £10,000 in England and £5,000 in the rest of the UK.
Third Sector understands that the Sherlock review has concluded that PPERA is outdated and will recommend that the registration thresholds under the act be increased to lessen the burden on small charities in particular.
The review will also say that guidance to charities should be made concise and clear. The guidance on the lobbying act has been criticised as unhelpful and has been amended on several occasions. Sherlock will also recommend that a Labour government carry out a consultation on regulations concerning campaigning.
A feature in the current, May edition of Third Sector concludes that it is not clear whether the charity sector’s campaigning activities have been affected by the act, it is widely acknowledged that it is causing a substantial administrative burden for the sector.
This week, Lord Hodgson’s independent review of the lobbying act, which was mandated by the legislation itself, began collecting evidence from third sector organisations through a short online survey. The Conservative peer’s review will be published by the end of this year.