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The Westminster Accounts

The Westminster Accounts

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Over £183 million of outside funds has flowed into this parliament alone, with no way of fully understanding who’s getting what, from whom, and why. Until now. This is the story of the money flowing into our politics, hidden in plain sight

Why this story?

More money flows into the UK parliament from outside sources than in MPs’ salaries. Millions are channelled through informal groupings that can influence policy in the interests of businesses and foreign governments – and could be infiltrated by spies. Some MPs are incorruptible; others are credulous at best. One has acquired the nickname “Airmiles”. This matters because the engine room of British democracy has rules and systems to enforce transparency, but they’re not working as they should. They are being twisted out of shape, and why we’re inviting the public to help us explore the Westminster Accounts database compiled by Tortoise and Sky News to shine a powerful new searchlight on money in British politics.

How we got here

Exactly how much money is sluicing through Westminster, and where does it come from? That was the question we asked ourselves last spring. We didn’t expect it to take nearly a year to start getting to the answer, but finally we got one: £183 million since the start of this Parliament.

Whether through default or design, the records of financial transactions from donors and companies to British politicians – essentially, the records of who is funding our politics – is a warren of data; spread across different websites and platforms, published online, in print, in PDFs and spreadsheets, in formats that can’t be compared or analysed easily.

It is only through teaming up with Sky and creating this tool that we have managed to start piecing together where, why and how all this money flows through Parliament.