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30.05.14

Scottish referendum spending cap begins

A cap on spending for both sides of the Scottish independence debate has come into force today as the formal ‘referendum period’ has been entered. 

The Electoral Commission, the watchdog policing the independence referendum, stated that the period will run for 16 weeks, until the close of the poll on Thursday 18 September. 

The rules, which were set by the Scottish Parliament as part of the referendum legislation, mean that no individual or organisation can spend more than £10,000 on campaigning during the referendum period unless they are registered with the Electoral Commission as a ‘permitted participant’. 

Campaigners must also keep to spending limits set out in law, and those that are registered with the Electoral Commission must report any donations over £7,500 that they have received - and they must only be from permissible sources. 

The start of the ‘referendum period’ also means that there are now limits on how much campaigners can spend. ‘Yes Scotland’ and ‘Better Together’ – as designated lead campaigners – have a maximum spending limit of £1.5m. 

Political parties have spending limits based on their share of the vote at the last Scottish Parliament election. Other campaigners who register with the Electoral Commission can spend up to £150,000.

John McCormick, Electoral Commissioner for Scotland said: “Campaigners have a vital role to play at any referendum as they set out competing views for voters to choose between. At the same time, voters will want to be confident that campaigners are playing by the rules and that there is transparency about how the campaigns are funded. 

“We’ve been working with campaigners to make sure they understand their responsibilities and can comply with the rules and we will be monitoring their activities closely.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

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