In a bid to help the public better understand where the money goes in politics, Sky News and Tortoise Media are launching Westminster Accounts. The interactive tool is made to help the public get a better understanding of MP’s financial interests, donations and payments.
Commissioned by Sky News, Tortoise Media have systematically collected and analysed thousands of donations and payment records from MPs, All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG’s) and political parties to create a one of a kind tool for public use. The tool currently covers the entirety of the current parliament and will be dynamically updated until the next UK General Election is held.
John Ryley, Head of Sky News, said: “This pioneering project from Sky News and Tortoise will give the public a better understanding of how politics is funded in this country. The Westminster Accounts tool is available to everyone and is a big step in making the workings of parliament more transparent and understandable for the public at large.”
The project is one of Sky News biggest investigations ever, and will help journalists and the public uncover more stories on where millions of pounds changing hands in Westminster is going and how it is used. While money going to personal accounts, parties and parliamentary groups has to be publicly declared, it is often split into multiple files often with errors that make them very difficult to examine and make sense of.
James Harding, Founder and Editor of Tortoise Media, said: “Until now, it’s been impossible to make sense of the relationship between money and politics. Parliament might be transparent in theory, but, by default or design, the jumble of declarations, registers and accounts has made it very hard to understand who gives, who gets, how much and for what. The Westminster Accounts makes all that information accessible for all of us.”
Westminster Accounts database covers the entirety of the current parliament, from December 19, 2019, and will be updated until the next General Election held in 2025 or earlier. According to Sky News, the database information is collected from:
- The Register of Members’ Financial Interests: Earnings from secondary employment, cash donations, gifts (including all gifted international travel), and other benefits for all sitting and former members of the current parliament.
- The Register of All-Party Parliamentary Groups: Cash donations, gifts and other benefits for all APPGs that have operated at any point during the current parliament, as well as membership lists for each group.
- The Electoral Commission: Cash donations, gifts and other benefits received by all political parties currently represented in the House of Commons.
The Westminster Accounts database can be accessed by anyone and is available now.