General Election media guide

This media handbook is a guide to a UK Parliamentary general election, focusing on the rules IPSA sets and that MPs and their staff must follow.

If you have questions or want to speak to us, please email communications@theipsa.org.uk or call 07792 242736.

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The Scheme and our guidance

IPSA’s Scheme of Staffing and MP Business Costs sets the rules on what MPs can claim for running their constituency office and in support of their parliamentary duties.

To help MPs understand and follow the rules we set, we publish guidance for MPs and their staff.

Our General Election guidance is available on our website.

Roles and responsibilities

IPSA was set up in 2009 under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, and amended in 2010 by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, in response to the MPs’ expenses scandal.

The legislation created an independent body to set, regulate, and administer MPs’ pay and business costs.

IPSA is independent of Parliament and government, enabling it to make fair and impartial decisions about MPs’ pay, pensions and business costs.

Before an election, IPSA provides guidance to MPs about the rules they must follow during dissolution, including how to ensure they do not use IPSA funds for party political campaigning.

Before polling day, IPSA also supports MPs who have decided to stand down to wind up their parliamentary affairs.

After the election, IPSA supports all new, returned, and departing MPs.

This includes onboarding and setting up new MPs and supporting the winding-up process for those MPs who have lost their seats.

The Electoral Commission is the independent body that oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK.

The Commission has several responsibilities around a general election, including registering political parties and non-party campaigners and providing guidance on how candidates, parties and campaigners can comply with election laws.

The Electoral Commission’s media guide on a UK Parliamentary general election is available on their website.

Press office

The Commission is best placed to address questions about the electoral process or political finance.

To get in touch with the Commission's press office, please visit their Media Centre

The House of Commons has produced guidance on the rules and support available for MPs intending to stand in the election and for those who are not.

Read the full Guidance for members who are standing at a general election.

Read the full Guidance for members who are not standing at a general election.

Press office

The House of Commons press office is responsible for managing media enquiries concerning Chamber business, procedural matters, and corporate issues associated with the House of Commons.

For inquiries or to get in touch, contact the Commons Media Relations Team.

The dissolution period

Once Parliament has been dissolved, MPs formally become candidates and Parliament is no longer sitting.

However, in practical terms, MPs will still have certain business running costs relating to their office or employing staff. They can continue to claim these during the dissolution period, so long as they do not relate to any electoral or party-political campaigning.

Although they no longer represent their constituents in Parliament, they can carry out urgent casework in line with House of Commons guidance.

Regardless of whether we are in a general election period, MPs can only claim costs for their parliamentary work.

This principle also applies to the dissolution period.

MPs cannot claim for costs related to campaigning, party political, or other electoral activity.

This ensures value for money for the taxpayer, and that MPs do not get an unfair advantage over other candidates.

During dissolution, MPs must ensure:

  • IPSA-funded websites must not be used for campaigning purposes. In line with the House of Commons guidance, MPs’ websites must carry a disclaimer to clarify they are no longer MPs, such as: “I am not currently an MP, as Parliament has been dissolved.” These websites must also be frozen. This means the website may remain online, but no new content should be added except the disclaimer, contact details and/or a link to an alternative website.

  • They do not use IPSA funds to produce campaign material or communications with their constituents, such as leaflets or press releases, which could be seen as giving MPs a campaigning advantage. During dissolution, IPSA funds should only be used by MPs to communicate urgent information with a parliamentary purpose, but generally, we would not expect MPs to use any IPSA-funded communications.

  • They do not use IPSA-funded IT equipment, such as laptops or printers for campaigning unless they pay IPSA a hire fee of £250. MPs are also required to repay a proportion of their rent and utility bills if they use their IPSA-funded constituency office for campaigning. This would count towards MPs’ candidate spending so MPs need to be mindful of electoral spending rules for candidates. Further information is available in our guidance.

  • MPs’ staff who are paid by IPSA cannot take part in any campaign activities during working hours. If they want to campaign for their MP, staff can:

    • take paid or unpaid leave

    • use accrued time off in lieu, or

    • campaign outside their normal working hours

  • MPs cannot claim for travel for campaigning and can only claim for travel if it is necessary to their parliamentary work. As Parliament is closed to MPs and their staff during dissolution, Westminster-based staff cannot work in London, but they can claim the cost of travel to their constituency to work.

Returning MPs

After polling day, candidates who were MPs before dissolution and then stood in a seat and won, will be referred to as “returning MPs”.

Returning MPs include those who have a new seat as a result of boundary changes, as well as MPs who have stood down in their previous seat and are elected in a new seat.

Returning MPs will continue to receive their salary as normal and are not entitled to the winding-up payment.

If they lose at a future General Election, IPSA will use the total continuous period in Parliament to calculate the loss of office payment.

If MPs decide to retain their staff, their staff will keep their continuous service but will not be entitled to redundancy pay.

Depending on the circumstances, staff members may be entitled to redundancy if their roles change significantly or if their place of work is relocated beyond a reasonable distance.

MPs who have used their IPSA-funded office, office equipment, or IT services for campaigning must:

  • repay a proportion of their rent and utility bills if they use their IPSA-funded constituency office for campaigning, or

  • pay a hire fee of £250 to use IPSA-funded equipment for campaigning

If an MP has used IPSA-funded equipment for campaigning activities the set fee must be repaid to IPSA, no later than 30 days after polling day.

Following the election, some MPs’ offices will be impacted by boundary changes.

This may lead to changes in constituency offices, constituency accommodation, additional commuting costs, redundancy because of office relocation, and continuity of service.

Constituency office moves

If an MP is re-elected, but their constituency office falls outside the new constituency boundary, IPSA will provide a £6,000 start-up supplement to the office costs budget. This is to assist them in setting up a new office and is in line with the uplift provided to newly elected MPs.

If the constituency office still falls within the new boundary, but the MP wishes to move the office to a more suitable location following boundary changes – for example, to be more centrally located or more accessible to constituents – they can make an application for contingency funding up to a maximum of £6,000 to facilitate the move. We will ask for an explanation of the rationale, which the Contingency Panel will consider.

In all cases where an MP moves their constituency office, they must ensure value for money, and the expectation is that wherever possible they will transfer equipment, furniture, signage, and other items to the new office.

Additional commuting costs

IPSA will allow staff to claim for the additional costs for commuting that staff incur because of an office move because of a boundary change for a trial period.

This means we will allow for a claim for the amount over and above what they were paying to commute to the previous office location for three months following an office move. This could relate to additional mileage or public transport fares.

These costs will be taxed at normal rates and are subject to a formal redundancy conversation between the MP and staff member before the trial period commences.

Redundancy because of office relocation

If a redundancy arose directly from the constituency boundary changes – for example, due to office relocation – the MP can apply to move these costs to the contingency budget.

Continuity of service

If an MP's staff member moves to a role with a different MP, they do not retain continuity of service. This is because, legally, each MP is an individual employer, and staff who move from one MP to another are moving from one employer to a new one.

Where a role is made redundant, a staff member with two years’ service has a statutory (and contractual) right to a redundancy payment.

For more information, visit our guidance on Boundary changes.

Departing MPs

IPSA also supports MPs who have lost their seat at the general election.

The process of winding up for MPs includes a series of tasks that must be completed within four months of polling day.

MPs essentially operate a small business and are responsible for running their constituency office.

For those who have lost their seat at the general election, the winding up period involves:

  • Making staff members redundant.

  • Closing down their office, including giving notice on rental agreements.

  • Repaying any money owed to IPSA, such as deposit loans for a rented office or any costs from the campaigning period.

  • Disposing of their IPSA-funded equipment, such as laptops and printers.

  • Closing, deleting, or handing over any case work in line with GDPR.

During the winding-up period, MPs can continue to claim for business costs such as staff salaries and disability assistance.

They cannot purchase any new office equipment, employ any new staff members, or increase the salaries of any existing staff members unless there are exceptional circumstances.

MPs are entitled to receive a winding-up payment to help them close down their parliamentary affairs.

If an MP loses their seat or stands unsuccessfully in a different seat, they will be eligible to receive a Loss of Office Payment (LOOP) and a winding-up payment.

The winding-up payment is calculated based on the sum of four months’ salary, net of tax and National Insurance contributions.

LOOP is equal to twice the statutory redundancy entitlement.

Ahead of this general election, several MPs have decided to stand down.

This means they are not contesting the election and will cease to be MPs once Parliament is dissolved.

The MPs who have announced before the general election that they were standing down are eligible to receive a winding-up payment.

They will not receive a LOOP payment.

Before the election, IPSA has met with MPs who have decided to stand down to explain the process.

They will continue to receive their salary up to and including polling day.