Printed content and Election Expenses
The Electoral Commission guidance around the apportionment of election expenses between Westminster constituency and national limits has been clarified and tightened for this election. This means the way we offer centrally-produced leaflets – and how we must account for them on our expenses returns - has changed.
Unless your Agent, local party Chair or Treasurer receives specific written confirmation, you cannot incur any expense on behalf of the national campaign. Nor may you "apportion" any spending to the National Party in your expense returns.
This authorisation, if given, will only be provided in writing from the party’s Compliance Department. If you do not receive specific written confirmation that you can incur national expenses, then you do not have permission to do this. The full cost of all expenses you incur for the General Election, regardless of content, must be reported in your Westminster constituency election expense return.
The one and only exception to this is that you may purchase leaflets that are 100% national content from us. These leaflets must be ordered from our chosen printer (Vistaprint) and may not be amended or localised in any way. If you purchase these Vistaprint leaflets, these will be accounted for on the Party's national return as they are wholly and completely national. You do NOT need to include these Vistaprint national leaflets in your local General Election returns. This is the only way that a seat may incur any national expense without written authorisation from the Compliance team.
Leaflets available via Vistaprint
A range of A4 leaflets, entirely national in content, will be available, for you to buy from Vistaprint. We will post a link to the exclusive webpage here as soon as it’s available – which will be within the next couple of days.
The password to access these materials will be sent to agents and local party chairs and treasurers. We’ve had to password-protect this site to ensure compliance with rules on donations to political parties.
Any seat can order these leaflets at any time, but only the local party treasurer or your election agent can make the purchase. These leaflets cannot be edited and they must only be ordered through Vistaprint. This ensures we can keep track of which local parties make orders. We need to know this because these leaflets will form part of the Party’s national expenses return.
Please do NOT include leaflets purchased though Vistaprint on your Westminster constituency expenses return. They will be accounted for on the Party’s national expenses return.
Paying for Vistaprint leaflets
Please make sure that all Vistaprint materials are paid for out of either the Local Party account or the Agent’s account. If a member or supporter wants to pay for the materials directly, you must ensure that they are a permissible donor, and that the invoices are sent to the Local Treasurer to report as a donation. They will have to be supplied to the Federal Party after the election.
If you wish to use national material and are happy for it to be recorded in full within your own local General Election expense returns, we will make artwork available on the Lib Dem Campaigners Google Drive.
Leaflets available via Google Drive
The General Election Google Drive folder is here: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B3T3mLaAGvIVYmxpUDZUZG9QYkU
Throughout the election, the Campaigns Department will upload template material such as appeal mailings, canvass leaflets, letters, Riso and full colour A3s, tabloids and election addresses to this folder.
Most of these templates will require localisation for your area. They may contain some sections or pages that are wholly national in content. You can use these as part of your leaflets but you cannot apportion any of it to the national campaign. Please use the national material unedited.
For clarity: Even where a portion of your leaflets is wholly national in content and uses these templates, you must account for the entire cost of the leaflet in your Westminster constituency return.
Paying for non-Vistaprint materials
Please make sure that all materials are paid for from your local Agent's account and that the invoices are sent to your Agent as they will (as normal) have to be supplied to your local Returning Officer after the election.
The above advice also applies to any online campaigning or advertising you do locally. You may use national content but you must account for the entire cost of doing so on your Westminster expenses return.
If you have any questions about these new rules on apportionment and election expenses, you can contact the compliance department at Liberal Democrats HQ on 020 7022 0988 or the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners’ (ALDC) Election Law Helpline on 0161 212 1012 (open between 9.30am – 5.00pm Monday – Friday) or via email at email@example.com.
To reiterate, only those local parties that are specifically authorised in writing to do so may incur spend on the national campaign.
If your seat does receive permission to incur spend on the national campaign, and you have any questions, please direct them to your Campaigns Officer or Sarah Morris.