The House

How to keep Short money

- Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorlan­d and Lonsdale, and former party leader Tim Farron

It might not be something you’ve heard of, but it might be something you enjoy! Once a month, maybe, it rolls into your bank account.

Short money is the public funding to “enable opposition parties in the House of Commons to fulfil their parliament­ary functions more effectivel­y”. Funds usually go towards researcher­s for opposition frontbench­ers, whips’ offices, and staff for the leader of the opposition.

It is available to parties which secured at least two seats at the last general election, or that achieved one seat but more than 150,000 votes nationally.

There’s not much I can offer in the sense of a “Toolkit”; no backroom deals or careful calculatio­ns will get you a bigger share. Allocation­s are based on the number of seats and votes achieved at a general election. (It’s currently £19,401 for every seat and £38.75 for every 200 votes!)

For instance, in 2022/23 Labour will receive £6,959,019, the SNP £1,177,842, and the Liberal Democrats £952,631. But a word of warning… Don’t go into coalition government as the junior party if you want to reward your party’s staff for their hard work, and not have to make them all redundant instead.

Short money is, after all, only offered to opposition parties. Before entering coalition in 2010, Short money constitute­d £1.75m of Lib Dem funding. When that funding stream was withdrawn, our party budget was slashed by a third overnight.

The main governing party will find roles for their staff, usually as spads. But for us, as the junior party, more than 20 talented and extremely dedicated Lib Dem HQ employees – without whom we wouldn’t have been in No 10 – saw their efforts rewarded with a P45, through no fault of their own.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the system… just in case it happens again.

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