John Bickley
John Bickley, Ukip's candidate at the Oldham West by-election, could secure thousands in public money for his party Getty

More than £100,000 is on the line for Ukip at the Oldham West and Royton by-election because of the rules around a little-known grant. Opposition parties with at least two MPs who swear the Oath of Allegiance are entitled to a so-called 'policy development grant'.

The public money is distributed by the Electoral Commission and documents on the organisation's website show Ukip accepted £179,739 ($273,320) as part of the scheme on 22 June, just a month after the general election.

Clacton's Douglas Carswell was Ukip's sole MP returned after the vote, but as the grant was decided on 7 March, when fellow Tory defector Mark Reckless represented Rochester and Strood, the Eurosceptic party met the Electoral Commission's requirements for the financial year.

"Ukip received 50% of their grant when they become eligible last year. 25% of the grant has been paid today and the final 25% will be paid at the end of the year, subject to an audit of their accounts," a spokesman for the body told IBTimes UK.

The party now has until March 2016 to secure at least one other seat in the House of Commons to receive further funding from the policy development grant programme. John Bickley, the party's Mancunian treasurer who is standing in Oldham at the 3 December vote, is currently Ukip's only hope.

But the hopeful is up against Oldham Council leader and Labour moderate Jim McMahon, the bookies' favourite to succeed the late Michael Meacher in the Greater Manchester constituency.

The funding could prove crucial ahead of the Welsh, Scottish and London Mayoral elections next May, particularly after donations to Ukip dropped to less than £50,000 in the third quarter of 2015.

"It is no surprise that there has been a significant dip in donations in the post-election period, we and our supporters threw the sink at it," a Ukip spokesperson told IBTimes UK.

"That being said, as we move back into a campaign footing for the Welsh, Scottish, London and Northern Ireland and English council elections, not to mention the EU referendum, it is clear that we are looking forward to ramping up our donation streams."

The comments come after Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Carswell had a public row over another type of taxpayers' funds, short money. The party eventually came to a compromise and a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the House of Commons, which distributes the grant, revealed that Ukip received £31,317 between 8 May and 30 September in short money.

The funds will reportedly help pay a speech writer up to £60,000 per annum, according to the Guido Fawkes blog. The staffer will work for the Ukip Parliamentary Resource Unit, a firm founded by Carswell, policy chief Reckless and party chairman Steve Crowther.

The party also has three peers in the House of Lords – Lord Pearson, Lord Willoughby de Broke and Lord Stevens – but Ukip has not received any 'Cranbourne money' from the upper chamber. "This is because it is only allocated to the two main opposition parties, and some to the Cross Benchers," a spokesman for the House of Lords told IBTimes UK.