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«HC 524 Annual Report and Accounts 2015–16 HC 524 Annual Report and Accounts 2015–16 Presented to Parliament pursuant to Schedule 1, Paragraphs ...»

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Annual Report &

Accounts 2015–16

HC 524

Annual Report and

Accounts 2015–16

HC 524

Annual Report and

Accounts 2015–16

Presented to Parliament pursuant to Schedule 1, Paragraphs 20(1) and 18(2)(b) of the

Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 21 July 2016.

HC 524

© The Electoral Commission 2016

The text of this document (this excludes, where present, the Royal Arms and all

departmental or agency logos) may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium provided that it is reproduced accurately and not in a misleading context.

The material must be acknowledged as The Electoral Commission copyright and the document title specified. Where third party material has been identified, permission from the respective copyright holder must be sought.

Any enquiries related to this publication should be sent to us at:

3 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8YZ Tel 0333 103 1928 info@electoralcommission.org.uk This publication is available at www.electoralcommission.org.uk Print ISBN: 9781474135795 Web ISBN: 9781474135801 Printed in the UK by the Williams Lea Group on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office ID: SGD0012562 07/16 Printed on paper containing 75% recycled fibre content minimum Contents Introduction 02 The Performance report 03 Overview 03 Performance Analysis 09 The Accountability Report 26 The Corporate Governance Report 26 The Directors Report 26 Statement of Accounting Officer’s Responsibilities 30 Governance Statement 31 Remuneration and Staff Report 43 Parliamentary Accountability and Audit Report 63 The Certificate and Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General to the House of Commons 68 Financial Statements 70 Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure 70 Statement of Financial Position 71 Statement of Cash Flows 72 Statement of Changes in Taxpayers’ Equity 73

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Introduction The Electoral Commission was set up under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). The Commission is independent of government and political parties and is directly accountable to the UK Parliament through a Committee chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Commission also reports to the Scottish Parliament in respect of its functions relating to local government elections in Scotland.

The Commission’s 2015-16 annual report and accounts are prepared in accordance with an accounts direction, set out on page 90 issued by HM Treasury under paragraph 17 (2) of Schedule 1 PPERA.

The Powers and Sanctions report at page 55 is prepared in accordance with paragraph 15 Schedule 19(b) and paragraph 27 Schedule 19(c) PPERA.

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The Performance Report Overview This annual report provides details of the Commission’s objectives, strategies, activities and performance for 2015-16 and presents the Commission’s accounts for the same period.

Message from the Chair and Chief Executive The last year has been very busy for the Commission. As well as supporting the transition from household to individual electoral registration (IER), immediately after the May 2015 UK Parliamentary General Election we started to prepare for the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. In addition throughout 2015-16 we were preparing for the complex set of polls in May 2016 and as well as these major projects, ‘business as usual’ activities continued to be delivered to a high standard. In the second half of the year Claire joined as Chief Executive and launched a strategic review that will be finalised in 2016-17 for implementation from April 2017.

The Commission’s many achievements in 2015-16 are detailed in the following pages.

Alongside these achievements we have continued to deliver efficiencies within our budget and we have achieved reductions in core spending of over 30% in real terms since 2010. We will continue to seek spending efficiencies on an on-going basis whilst ensuring that appropriate resources are in place to ensure that we continue to fulfill our role effectively.

We would like to thank our staff, and everyone who works more widely across the electoral system, for responding positively to the challenges to date. We would not have achieved the success of the past year, without the support of our staff and of the other organisations we work with and we look forward to facing the challenges and opportunities to come.

–  –  –

Principles and Objectives The Electoral Commission is committed to the United Kingdom’s strong tradition of free elections, which are an essential part of a healthy democracy.


• work to serve the people of the United Kingdom

• are committed to protecting and promoting democracy

• put voters first We will seek change where the evidence shows that it is needed to serve the people of the United Kingdom, and their democracy, better.

Our principles for free elections that support a healthy democracy

• Trust: people should be able to trust the way our elections and our political finance system work

• Participation: it should be straightforward for people to participate in our elections and our political finance system, whether voting or campaigning; and people should be confident that their vote counts

• No undue influence: there should be no undue influence in the way our elections and our political finance system work Our objectives for free elections that support a healthy democracy Well-run elections, referendums and electoral registration

We want people throughout the United Kingdom to be confident that:

• registering to vote and taking part in elections is straightforward, accessible and secure

• they will receive a consistently high quality of service, wherever they live and whichever elections or referendums are being held Transparency in party and election finance, with high levels of compliance

We want people throughout the United Kingdom to be confident that:

• there is transparency about party and election finance, so that people know where money comes from and how it is spent

• people who want to stand for election, and people and organisations that want to campaign at elections, can easily find out how to get involved, what the rules are, and what they need to do to comply with those rules

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• the rules on party and election finance are followed, and those who do not follow them are dealt with appropriately and effectively

• political parties, candidates and campaigners can participate in elections without unnecessary barriers.

Performance Summary The Commission’s achievements during 2015-16 covered a wide range of areas and are summarised below with more detail in the Performance Analysis section that follows.

• Electoral registration

• Participation in elections and referendums

• Electoral fraud

• The Electoral framework

• Ensuring voters can see how politicians and campaigners raise and spend money

• Effective regulation

• The framework for political party funding

• Financial performance

Electoral registration

The Commission’s Electoral Registration programme focuses on work to maximise registration levels as well as supporting the transition from household to individual electoral registration (IER). A significant amount of work took place in 2015-16 as the transition to IER concluded. In addition to introducing new performance standards for Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and monitoring their activities for the implementation of IER, we published a number of reports. These included our assessment of progress with the transition to IER up to the publication of the registers for the May 2015 polls and an analysis of the December 2015 registers in Great Britain whose publication marked the end of the transition to IER.

Participation in elections and referendums

1 In relation to the May 2015 UK Parliamentary General Election and local elections in England, we ran a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of the registration deadline; reported on the administration of the polls; and published detailed campaign expenditure returns for party and non-party campaigners.

2 In preparation for the May 2016 polls, we published guidance for political parties, nonparty campaigners, candidates and agents and Returning Officers; launched a multimedia campaign to raise awareness of the registration deadline and developed partnerships with a range of organisations from the corporate, public and voluntary sectors aimed at reaching traditionally ‘hard to reach’ voters to encourage them to register to vote. We also supported National Voter Registration week in February on social media and through other activities.

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Parliament; publishing our statutory advice on the proposed referendum question;

issuing guidance for Counting Officers, Regional Counting Officers, campaigners and the media; publishing regular campaigners’ updates; registering referendum campaigners;

and running a series of regional seminars for Counting Officers and their staff.

Electoral fraud

4 In 2015-16 we continued monitoring 17 local authority areas identified as being at higher risk of allegations of electoral fraud in advance of the May 2015 elections and commenced monitoring of the same areas, with the addition of one, in advance of the May 2016 elections. We continued working with the police, electoral administrators and political parties to ensure prevention and early detection of fraud; and responded to Sir Eric Pickles’ review of electoral fraud.

5 We also published our report ‘Electoral fraud vulnerabilities at polling stations review’, recommending the requirement for voters across Great Britain to present an acceptable photographic form of identification prior to being issued with a ballot paper and voting at the polling station.

Electoral framework 6 We published a report on ‘Hidden Costs of Electoral Law’, where we looked at the inefficiencies and opportunity costs generated by the current system and what could be minimised or avoided if it were revised and simplified.

7 In August we issued our second response to the consultation paper published by the Law Commissions in December 2014. In February 2016, the Law Commissions published their final recommendations for electoral law reform. We welcomed these proposals and believe that they will address many of the difficulties with the current law by reducing the burdens placed on electoral administrators and, ultimately, the costs of delivering electoral events. The review has the unanimous support of the electoral community and we would like to see the UK and Scottish Governments give their swift approval for the review to move onto the next stage of drafting legislation, to be in place for the 2020 UK Parliamentary General Election and the 2021 elections to devolved parliaments. We have written to the Government asking for their swift approval.

8 We submitted our response to the Cabinet Office’s consultation on the Recall of MPs draft regulations. The final regulations were made and came into force in early March 2016.

Ensuring voters can see how politicians and campaigners raise and spend money 9 We published details, on a quarterly cycle, of a total of £66.9 million accepted in donations by political parties during 2015. We also published information on parties’ statements of accounts and campaign expenditure returns from parties and non-party campaigners.

10 We responded to the ‘call for evidence and views’ that Lord Hodgson issued in June 2015 as part of his review of the operation and effectiveness of the provisions regulating third-party campaigning.

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Effective regulation 11 We published revised guidance, based on our party registration policy review in 2014-15, on the process for registering political parties and the use of identifiers (party names, descriptions and emblems) on ballot papers.

12 We concluded our 2015 review of all party names, descriptions and emblems included in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland registers to ensure that existing identifiers complied with the requirements of PPERA.

13 In November 2015 we began to post online any new proposed names, descriptions and emblems for public comment before coming to a decision on whether to register them. At the beginning of 2016, we also started publishing information on our decisions on whether to approve or reject them.

14 We also published a study into the impact of party names, descriptions and emblems on the usability of ballot papers.

The framework for political party funding

15 In June 2013 we published a major review of the current rules on donations and campaign spending, making 50 recommendations to update the law covering political parties and other campaigners; improve the information available to voters; increase the effectiveness of the rules; and make obligations more proportionate for those that the Commission regulates. A number of those recommendations were implemented in the legislation for the 2015 UK General Election and the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

Financial performance 16 In delivering our objectives the Commission spent a total of £18,198k, £3,223k less than

the total funding limit of £21,421k. This comprises:

• An underspend of £3,161k against voted resource of which £1,874k relates to

preparatory work for the referendum on UK membership of the European Union (note:

a budget of £3,250k was agreed for the referendum activity in the autumn of 2015 based on the earliest potential date for the referendum. When the date of the referendum was confirmed as 23 June 2016 approximately £1,600k of the potential expenditure was forecast to be in 2016-17 rather than 2015-16 leaving an underspend against the 2015-16 budget).

• An underspend of £19k against the voted capital allocation of £250k

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