Read our seven top tips for putting together a post-election engagement strategy, and download our new influencing toolkit to put them into action.
Jess Mullins, Public Affairs Officer, National Housing Federation
15 May 2019
On 2 May there were local elections for large parts of England, and the results hit the headlines. The Conservatives lost 1,333 councillors, Labour lost 83 councillors, and the Liberal Democrats gained 1,351 councillors.
After these results, it’s safe to say that the political makeup of some councils has changed considerably.
As a sector, it is vital that we are always building relationships, particularly at a local level. Locally elected officials can have a significant impact on how a housing association operates, including access to local sites and land.
We know that a lot of housing associations work in partnership with local authorities, so now is the time to focus on building new relationships, and fostering old ones.
If you haven’t yet started your post-election strategy, we’ve set out seven tips to help guide your engagement. The tools we reference can all be accessed in our new local engagement toolkit.
Good luck – and let us know how you get on.
Map your stakeholders
Before you think about engaging with local councilors, you need to understand who you need to speak to. It may not be possible to talk to everyone, so you may want to map out who the councillors are, and who to start building a relationship with first. You can base this decision on several things, from who holds a planning or housing portfolio, to who the local ward councillors are in an area where you are planning to develop.
Do your homework
After deciding which councillors to build a relationship with, do some research on them to ensure that your relationship gets off to the best possible start. You need to understand what their motivations are, what their views on housing are, and where you can build on areas of mutual work and understanding. It may seem tricky to know where to find this information, but social media platforms are always a good place to start.
What is the point?
The key to successful relationship building is preparation. Before you contact stakeholders it’s important to understand what it is you would like to get out of it and, crucially, to understand why that stakeholder would like to meet you. Think of things you can ‘offer’ the other person. Can you offer rooms for meetings? Can you facilitate surgeries? Or offer a direct line to you if they have any casework queries?
Take the plunge
Now you have done your groundwork, it’s time to make contact. You can get councillors’ contact details on the council’s website. Remember, they are busy people, so don’t pester them but do chase up your request.
The big day
Politicians are busy people, so being prepared for the meeting is vital. Arrive with an agenda of areas you would like to discuss, but be prepared to answer questions too. Always check if there have been any local casework issues and be prepared to talk about that.
Engagement is the beginning not the end
Relationships are not one-off meetings, they are built and then developed. To make sure your engagement gets off to the best start, make sure you deliver on any promises you made in the meeting. Good engagement always involves following up to ensure that you continue to build the relationship go beyond a one-off meeting.
Tell us about your engagement
Please keep us informed of your engagement with politicians. Political intelligence is crucial to the work we do, it allows us to build a picture of the political environment our members are operating in, and adjust our messages and lobbying work accordingly.
Let us know – fill out our political intelligence form.