PRCA raises questions over Lobbying Act's impact on charities

The PRCA has written to the Electoral Commission calling for clarity on ten "fundamental questions" it claims remain unanswered concerning the impact of the Lobbying Act on charity campaigners and PRs.

The Lobbying Act: Kicking in this September after making it through Parliament
The Lobbying Act: Kicking in this September after making it through Parliament

The Government’s Lobbying Act was passed in January despite concerns being raised over whether the second part of the bill would limit the ability of charities to campaign during elections.  

Now, with rules set to come into force on 19 September, the PRCA’s Not for Profit and Charity Group has written to the commission with ten key questions that it says need to be addressed about how the rules will affect the work being done by charity campaigners and PRs. The letter can be seen here

The regulations are separate to the first part of the bill, which concerns the creation of a register of consultant lobbyists, but have proved no less controversial

Simon Francis, director at Claremont and vice-chair of the PRCA’s Not for Profit and Charity Group, said: "It’s of huge concern to in-house teams, agencies and freelancers alike that with just weeks to go before non-party campaigner regulations come into force, there are still fundamental questions that remain unanswered about the impact of the Lobbying Act.

"The concerns the PRCA’s members have raised range from fundamental questions about what is covered, to the extent to which spending limits apply to staff or volunteer activity, and into the detail of how any spending should be reported.

"While the general advice to PRs is to keep calm and keep campaigning, the industry needs to be aware that the Lobbying Act does not just have an impact on lobbyists.

"All PRs need to ensure they will not fall foul of these highly complex and bureaucratic regulations."

The PRCA, which has also been critical of the lobbying register, has called on the commission to respond by 19 August. 

An Electoral Commission spokesperson told PRWeek: "The PCRA has only just written to us with its queries and we will be responding shortly.

"We have produced a range of guidance for campaigners to help them both understand the law and what they need to do to comply with it. This includes working with the UK’s charity regulators to create guidance aimed specifically at charities.

"We have already run webinars and attended meetings, where large numbers of voluntary organisations have been present, to help potential campaigners understand the rules and we will continue to do this over the coming weeks."

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