Prospect is politically independent – we are not affiliated to any political party: our rules expressly forbid this.
We do, however, have a political fund.
What is the political fund?
As a campaigning organisation, Prospect engages with politicians and political parties in a number of ways, from writing letters to individual MPs to lobbying party conferences. Any union involved in ‘political’ activities – as laid down in the Trade Union Acts of 1913 and 1984 – must finance them from a political fund which is separate from its other income.
What are ‘political’ activities?
Political activities used to be defined as giving direct support to people in public office – MPs, councillors and candidates. The 1984 Act widened the definition of political activities to include spending on literature, documents or film, ‘the main purpose’ of which could be interpreted as seeking to persuade anyone to vote for or against a political party or candidate. These activities extend to the provision of ‘any service’ for use by political parties. What constitutes a service is not defined – whether it be a briefing, reimbursement of expenses or hospitality for an MP.
Under the rules of the fund and of Prospect, affiliations or donations to any party are prohibited unless a full ballot of the members so decides.
How has the fund been used?
The fund is separate from Prospect’s general funds. It is used to support campaigns that would otherwise be at risk of legal challenge. If Prospect is challenged over any expenditure, for example, in the middle of a campaign on pay or pensions, the fund would ensure that campaign could continue. In recent years it has been used in campaigns on forensic science, broadband investment, indexation of pensions, redundancy compensation, science policy, defence jobs, pensions, etc.
How it works
Political fund contributions are voluntary therefore you must opt-in to contribute. You also have the right to opt-out at any time.
The fund is used only for campaigning that could be deemed political. All expenditure from the fund must be reported to the Certification Officer.
A member who chooses not to contribute to the political fund shall not, by reason of not contributing, be excluded from any benefits of the union or be placed in any respect either directly or indirectly under a disability or at a disadvantage as compared with other members of the union (expect in relation to control of the political fund).