The dissolution period

Overview

This guidance provides advice to all MPs – whether standing for re-election or standing down – on the rules and processes that must be followed during the dissolution period.

We have provided additional guidance for MPs who have decided to stand down.

Following the dissolution of Parliament, you can continue to claim your usual costs while bearing in mind this guidance.

Please remember:

  • You can only claim for costs that are for the performance of your parliamentary functions. Costs related to campaigning, party political or other electoral activity cannot be claimed for.

  • You can continue to use your Payment Card and direct payment options during the dissolution period but only for costs to support you in carrying out your parliamentary functions.

  • You should bear in mind that if you are standing down or are not returned after the election, your budgets for the financial year will be pro-rated to cover a period of four months.

  • As usual, you must make claims within 90 days of incurring the cost.

  • Make sure that any outstanding business you have with IPSA is up to date. For example, submitting all Payment Card reconciliation forms on IPSA Online and ensuring that these are approved by our Validation team by the deadline.

It is possible that using IPSA-funded resources for your election campaign could be regarded as a donation by the Electoral Commission, and because IPSA is not a permissible donor for candidates, this may be classed as a criminal offence and cases could be referred to the police.

For guidance on what work your staff can do during the dissolution period, please visit the dissolution guidance produced by the House of Commons.

All guidance contained within the General Election section is subject to change.

Guidance

Any IPSA-funded websites (whether wholly or partially funded) must not be used for campaigning purposes.

In line with guidance from the House of Commons, during the dissolution period, your websites must carry a disclaimer to clarify that you are not currently a Member of Parliament.

An example of a suitable disclaimer is:

“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.

For further guidance on this and your online presence in general, please refer to the dissolution guidance published by the House of Commons.

You must not use your website for campaigning purposes, even if you repay IPSA part of the original claim.

Any repayment received from an MP related to this during the dissolution period will be transferred back and the MP will be asked to remove any campaigning material from their website.

We will conduct a real-time website review and may refer breaches to the Electoral Commission.

You can continue to make claims in relation to your constituency office. However, during dissolution, you should avoid making new purchases for office furniture, IT hardware and other capital equipment.

In the event that you lose your seat, we may find that this additional expenditure leads to difficulties in winding up your office and we aim to avoid these difficulties where possible.

If you have an exceptional requirement, claims can be submitted but will need to be accompanied by a rationale for the exceptional nature of the claim.

IPSA-funded resources (including your office, supplies and equipment funded by IPSA) can continue to be used for your parliamentary functions but not for political campaigning purposes.

Please note that IT support from the PDS may not be generally available during this period. Please refer to the House of Commons guidance for further information.

Any use of IPSA funds for either party or candidate campaign purposes falls outside IPSA rules.

Exceptions are:

  • Use of IPSA-funded IT equipment for campaigning, where you pay a hire fee.

  • Use of your office for campaigning, provided you repay IPSA the amount of rent/utilities costs that reflects the proportion of the office used for campaigning; or adjust your claims to reflect only the proportion that is being used for your normal parliamentary work.

For information on how to calculate rent and other costs to repay, see below.

IPSA will require all MPs to sign a declaration after the election (including any MPs who lose their seats) to confirm whether or not they have used IPSA-funded resources for campaigning. These declarations will be shared with the electoral commission and the Compliance Officer.

In relation to office supplies, you should only claim the amount which relates to your parliamentary functions. Please note that our Validation team may request an explanation when submitting the claim.

Using IPSA-funded equipment for campaigning

To use IPSA-funded IT equipment for campaigning activities, you must pay a hire fee to IPSA.

For example, you must pay the hire fee if you wish to use an IPSA-funded office printer to print out campaigning material.

The fee amount will be communicated at the beginning of the dissolution period. It must be paid to IPSA no later than 30 days after Polling Day.

The fee can be paid by BACS accompanied by a declaration form.

For example, in 2019, the fee was calculated as £135 and was based on the average spend of MPs for the past five years, prorated to the five weeks of dissolution.

The hire fee covers the use of any IPSA-funded equipment during the dissolution period (for example, you do not need to pay the fee for each piece of equipment being used).

The fee will count towards your candidate spending, and you should be mindful of electoral rules for candidates, including spending limits.

There are separate fees for the use of House of Commons-funded equipment for campaigning activity.

Using your constituency office for campaigning

You may make use of your office for campaigning, provided you repay IPSA the amount of rent/utilities costs that reflects the proportion of the office used for campaigning, or adjust your claims to reflect only the proportion that is being used for your normal parliamentary work.

If you are making a repayment for office use, or claiming a reduced sum, please confirm the proportion (%) of the office used for campaigning and details of how you calculated the reduction/repayment (we have provided a model for this calculation below).

All repayments must be received no later than 30 days after Polling Day.

Model of calculation

If MPs use their IPSA-funded constituency office for campaigning activity, they must repay a proportion of the rent and other costs such as utilities.

This is how to calculate the amount of rent and other costs to repay.

Annual cost divided by 365, multiplied by the number of days used for campaigning.

For example, the annual rent is £10,000, and the office is used for 35 days of campaigning.

This means £10,000 divided by 365 multiplied by 35, equals £958.90

If you are using a percentage of the office or good/service for campaigning, the calculation is:

Annual cost divided by 365, multiplied by the number of days used for campaigning, multiplied by the percentage used.

For example, the annual cost is £1,200, and the good or service is used for 35 days of campaigning, 50% of the time.

This means £1,200 ÷ 365 × 35 × 0.50 = £57.53

The repayment form can be found by visiting Repaying IPSA.

As of 1 April 2023, funding for MPs’ security measures has transferred from IPSA to the Parliamentary Security Department (PSD) at the House of Commons.

For all enquiries and claims regarding security measures for MPs or funding from the central security budget, please contact the Members’ Security Support Services (MSSS):

"Routine" security and safety costs may continue to be claimed from the accommodation and office costs budget.

For further information on security, please refer to the dissolution guidance published by the House of Commons.

Your staff will continue to receive their salaries as normal during the dissolution period. Please refer to House of Commons guidance on the type of work that can and cannot be carried out during this period.

No changes to staff members’ contractual terms such as pay, hours and place of work may be made from the date the election is called until the end of the winding-up period (if the seat is lost or if you have stood down). However, you are permitted to extend a staff member’s fixed-term contract.

More information is available below.

Staff on non-IPSA contracts can be moved over to an IPSA contract – and we strongly urge you to do this.

Staff members must, however, be employed on the new contract for at least six months before notice of redundancy is issued in order to benefit from the IPSA contract redundancy provisions (in other words, double statutory redundancy).

What changes you can make to a staff member’s contract during dissolution

Staff contracts state that no changes may be made to their terms and conditions of employment from the date a motion is passed confirming an election until the expiry of the winding-up period, unless such a change is required, or required to be considered, by statute.

Therefore, no contractual changes will be permitted until four months after the election. This includes increases and decreases of a staff member’s salary.

Any changes that were requested before the election was called will be actioned as normal.

If you have a staff member on a fixed-term contract which is due to end on the day an election is called or during the dissolution period, then you are permitted to extend this as normal on IPSA Online.

If you wish to make a staff member permanent on the day an election is called or during the dissolution period, then you are permitted to make this change as normal on IPSA Online.

Please remember that in the event that you lose your seat or stand down, all staff members will be made redundant.

Staff members working away from their normal place of work during dissolution

If your staff member is required to work away from their normal place of work during the dissolution period, as this is a temporary arrangement rather than a contractual agreement, you are not permitted to change the staff members’ salary to reflect this.

The staff member is, however, eligible to claim for travel and hotel costs if they are required to work away from their normal place of work (e.g. if they are Westminster-based and are required to work in the constituency).

If your staff member is required to work from home during the dissolution period, as this is a temporary arrangement rather than a contractual agreement, IPSA will not pay the working-from-home allowance. Staff may, however, be able to claim home working costs directly from HMRC.

For more information, visit the HMRC website.

If your staff members take part in campaigning

IPSA-funded staff are unable to undertake any campaigning activities during working hours. There are several options if they do want to help the campaign. They could:

  • take paid leave

  • take unpaid leave

  • use accrued Time Off In Lieu (TOIL)

  • campaign outside their normal working hours

We advise you to record any TOIL (for example, in an Excel spreadsheet) or any other leave a staff member takes in the event this is queried by IPSA at a later date.

Offices are advised to keep a record until the end of the winding-up period in the event the MP loses their seat or stands down as IPSA cannot guarantee payment if the information is lost.

Please be reminded that all employment contracts state that TOIL should be used within three months of accruing it.

For more information, please visit Booking annual leave.

Unpaid leave can be communicated to Payroll in one of two ways:

  • the staff member can submit an absence request using the "absences" tab under the "your employment" tab on IPSA Online, which will go to the proxy or MP for approval, or

  • the MP or proxy can record the absence using ‘absence entry’ under the ‘time and expenses’ tab on IPSA Online

For step-by-step guidance on the process, visit Recording sickness and unpaid leave.

Please tell IPSA by the 15th of the month (our normal payroll cut-off) if any of your staff are going to take unpaid leave so IPSA can adjust their pay.

Overtime and reward and recognition payments

Your staff are permitted to submit overtime claims during the dissolution period and, in the event you stand down or lose your seat, during the winding-up period. Please bear in mind that overtime may only be paid for parliamentary work, not for campaigning.

IPSA will accept reward and recognition payments for staff on the day an election is called or during the dissolution period. This is because we recognise that MPs may have planned to make these payments before the election was called. In the event you stand down or lose your seat, no reward and recognition payments will be accepted during the winding-up period.

Making staff members’ jobs redundant

You are permitted to make a staff member’s job redundant during the dissolution period, especially if you plan to stand down at the General Election.

This cost will come from the contingency budget if you plan to stand down and the staffing budget if you decide to stand.

For more information, visit Making your staff members jobs redundant.

New starters

IPSA will accept new starter forms for contracts starting before and after Polling Day throughout the dissolution period.

However, in the event you lose your seat, all staff members’ jobs will become redundant, and the new starter will not be entitled to redundancy pay.

Bought-in services

The normal rules apply with regard to bought-in services costs.

Payments where staffing services are provided by companies, self-employed individuals, and others not on the MP’s payroll, can be funded from either the office costs budget or the staffing budget.

For more information, visit our Evidence requirements.

Bought-in services must not be used for political campaigning purposes and MPs should assure themselves that certain services are necessary for their parliamentary duties during the dissolution period (for example, services to draft press releases and media and communications support in writing to constituents could be seen as giving MPs a campaigning advantage, which is not permitted under the Scheme).

Please ensure you provide an explanation of why costs of this nature were required during the dissolution period when submitting them on IPSA Online.

You will continue to receive your salary up to and including Polling Day.

This will include any London Area Living Payment (LALP) or Additional LALP (for outer London MPs).

If you chair a select committee or you are a member of the Panel of Chairs, your additional salary for these activities will stop on the date of dissolution.

You can claim for rental accommodation, hotel accommodation or associated costs in accordance with the normal rules of the Scheme during dissolution.

Claims for hotel accommodation must be for parliamentary purposes only, and not to facilitate campaigning or other activity.

During dissolution, you can continue to claim the costs of travel if it is necessary for your parliamentary work.

You can also claim the costs of travel for your dependants and for your spouse or partner.

Travel for campaigning or other activities is not claimable.

Your staff can also claim as normal for the costs of travel related to your parliamentary functions.

Staff who normally work in Westminster and need to work in the constituency during dissolution may also claim for travel between Westminster and the constituency office.

They may also claim for journeys between their home and the constituency office.

If they need to stay overnight in the constituency, they may claim for hotels and other subsistence and for journeys to the constituency office.

Whether staff travel time is included in their contractual hours worked is at your discretion as the employer. However, if you did have any queries on this, please don’t hesitate to contact the Members’ HR team.

You cannot claim for costs for travel by you, your family members or your staff which is for campaigning or party-political reasons.

If you stood down in your previous seat and won the election in a new seat, you will continue to have a full year’s Office Cost Budget.

However, we understand that you may have additional costs related to closing down your old constituency office.

In addition, although we expect that you will be able to transfer all or most of your furniture and equipment to your new office rather than purchasing new equipment, you may require additional start-up costs.

Where this is the case, you can apply for these from the contingency fund. You should be able to explain why these costs are exceptional and necessary for closing down or setting up your new office.

For more information, visit Applying for contingency payment.

When moving into an office in your new constituency, you must register this as usual by submitting a Property Registration Form and cancel your previous office by submitting a Property Amendment Form.

For more information, visit Registering an office or home.

As you will receive your salary without a gap in service, you are not entitled to the winding-up payment.

However, in the event you lose your seat at a future General Election, IPSA will use the total continuous period of time in Parliament to calculate the loss of office payment.

If you decide to retain your staff, they will keep their continuous service but will not be entitled to redundancy pay. You may want to consider if any contractual changes are required.

For more information, visit Making contractual changes.

If you plan to make changes to your office by hiring new staff, then you will need to make your current staff members’ jobs redundant.

For more information, visit Making your staff redundant.

Staff members with two years of continuous service will be entitled to redundancy pay.

If you stood for re-election in a different seat from your previous one and were not re-elected, you will be eligible to receive a winding-up payment and loss of office payment (LOOP).

For more information, visit MPs leaving parliament.

The Electoral Commission provides advice and guidance for election candidates and also monitors candidates’ compliance with the financial rules.

Following the announcement of a general election, the Electoral Commission will make available comprehensive guidance for candidates and agents, covering the entire process of standing for election, including the rules about candidates’ election expenses and donations, which will all be available to download on the Commission’s website.

Contact IPSA

To get additional support, contact us.