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Labour received highest ever amount of private donations last year

Labour received its highest-ever yearly amount of private donations across 2023 in a major boost to Sir Keir Starmer’s election war chest.

While the party continued to receive funding from trade unions, the main lift came from individuals and companies – who gave more than £13 million in cash in total.

The biggest backer overall was former Autoglass boss Gary Lubner, who gave £4.5 million, while the largest single donation of £3 million was provided by Lord David Sainsbury, the long-standing Labour supporter.

Labour gets donation boost
Lord Sainsbury (David Jones/PA)

Lord Sainsbury was a major donor when the party was last in power, serving as a minister in Sir Tony Blair’s government.

He later cut off his support to the party as it shifted to the left under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, but returned to the fold in 2022.

Labour also accepted another £1 million from green energy industrialist Dale Vince’s Ecotricity firm in November, according to figures published by the Electoral Commission.

Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: “Thanks to Keir Starmer’s leadership, last year was our best fundraising year ever.

“Labour will turn the page on 14 years of Tory failure with a plan to deliver the change Britain deserves.”

The second highest annual sum for private donations to the party was £10.8 million in 2005.

The rise in individual donations comes as Labour holds a sustained double-digit lead over the ruling Conservatives in opinion polls ahead of an election expected later this year.

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(PA Graphics)

But the Tories also had a successful fundraising year, including a £10 million bequest from the late Lord John Sainsbury – the cousin of Lord David Sainsbury and former boss of the family’s supermarket company.

The Electoral Commission figures show around £41 million in private cash donations from individuals and companies flowed into the coffers of the central party after a challenging previous year.

The Conservatives had recorded an overall loss in 2022 amid a year of political turmoil which saw three different prime ministers enter Number 10.

Including donations to both the central party and local branches as well as all payments from trade unions, companies, individuals and public funds, Labour reported around £31 million across 2023.

Under the same criteria, the Tories recorded around £48 million, while the Liberal Democrats declared around £8 million and Reform UK £255,000 for the year.

Some £200,000 came to Reform from First Corporate Consultants Ltd, a company owned by prominent climate sceptic Terence Mordaunt, who previously donated to the Tories.

The party also accepted £10,000 from financier Crispin Odey in August 2023, around two months after misconduct allegations against him emerged, the figures confirm.

Political parties reported more than £93 million overall in 2023, compared with to £52 million in the previous year, according to the Electoral Commission.

Louise Edwards, director of regulation and digital transformation at the commission, said: “With a general election on the horizon, it’s not unusual to see a spike in donations as political parties begin to campaign.

“While there is no limit to what parties can raise, there are spending limits in place ahead of elections to ensure a level playing field.”