Electoral Commission issues dual brief to find government contacts and garner opinion

The independent watchdog responsible for regulating party financing is seeking dual agency help as it looks to retain its voice in the funding debate.

Call for action: Nick Clegg held cross-party talks on funding  (Credit: Press Association)
Call for action: Nick Clegg held cross-party talks on funding (Credit: Press Association)

The Electoral Commission has launched a brief to help it identify key contacts within the Government, with a focus on finding out what politicians think of the body.

The news comes as the debate around party funding int-ensifies across Westminster, with all three parties calling for action on financing after the Peter Cruddas ‘cash for access’ scandal in March.

Following accusations Conservative party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas offered acc-ess to the PM for £250,000, Deputy PM Nick Clegg convened cross-party talks to start the ball rolling on reform, but the issue remains deadlocked.

The Electoral Commission looks to provide ‘insights into how the regime works and what the impact of changes might be’. The body has its own review of the UK’s party fin-ancing system under way.

Public affairs manager Caroline Bolshaw told PRWeek: ‘We’re keen to make sure we are not missing anyone significant and that we’re making an impact.' She added that the commission was keen to find out ‘which of these stakeholders we should be communicating with’.

At the same time, the commission is seeking an agency to provide parliamentary monitoring services for the coming two years.

While the commission declined to comment on the fees available for the two briefs, PRWeek has discovered by Freedom of Information that it plans to spend more than £94,000 on external comms agencies in 2012-13.

The commission is independent of Government but publicly funded. One agency source who has seen the brief said the process would not challenge the commission’s independence as it is only aimed at ‘finding out what people think’.

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