What is purdah?

05 November 2019

Ahead of the pre-Christmas general election scheduled for 12 December, it has been confirmed that parliament will dissolve on 6 November. At this point, we will enter a period of purdah – but what exactly does this mean and who does it affect?

Purdah is the pre-election period in which civil servants are expected to refrain from making any announcements that concern new or controversial government initiatives. They are also required to remain impartial in their political stance during this time. The reasoning behind this is to ensure that any comments do not serve to advantage or, even, disadvantage any of the political parties in the run up to the election.

The Cabinet Office circulates guidance prior to each election and the latest version can be found here. Purdah was also imposed before the referendum was held back in 2016.

While purdah does not have a direct impact on payroll professionals as such, it does have implications for the Policy & Research team here at the CIPP. Meetings scheduled with government departments are often cancelled as officials sometimes feel it’s pointless to arrive at a session where they cannot discuss the items originally intended on the agenda.

Wider implications of the general election mean that any petitions that are currently running will close prior to the dissolution of parliament and that it will be the decision of a new petitions committee as to whether they will be debated or not, as the current group will disband. Any bills currently progressing through parliament will be abandoned, unless they are carried over, or will have to be presented again from scratch.


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