In the run up to the election, you have a valuable opportunity to engage with your local candidates, building positive relationships that will be vital if they become your MP.
- Getting in touch with candidates
- Messages for your meetings
- Publicising the visits
- After the meeting
- The Lobbying Act and purdah
The first and most urgent action is to get in touch with your local candidates and invite them to visit a local service or development. Candidates from all parties will be campaigning and trying to reach people in the local area both in person, in the press and on social media.
Not all of the candidates have been announced yet – the Who can I vote for? website is a good starting point. All candidates will be confirmed by 11 May.
Giving candidates an opportunity to visit a local supported housing scheme, community facility or new development for a photo in a hard hat will allow them to learn about what you do, meet local people and start your relationship in a positive way.
If they are the sitting MP, you may already know them well. If not, you should provide them with a bit more detail about your work in the local area.
It is also worth giving candidates your chief executive’s contact details in case they come across any of your residents who raise repairs and maintenance issues while they are out campaigning. Repairs issues are often the first experience local politicians have with housing associations and showing that you take this seriously makes a good first impression.
To help you with this initial contact, the following resources could be useful:
- Contact details for the candidates standing in your local area
- Engaging with your MP for the first time
- Ideas for engaging creatively
Use the candidate visits as an opportunity to talk about both your business and the housing sector as a whole.
- Talk to them about how housing associations are ready to work in partnership with all political parties to end the housing crisis. We already build a third of all new homes every year and over the next five years we will build 250,000 more. We match every pound of public investment with six raised privately.
- Talk to them about the sector’s vision, Ambition to Deliver, and our aim to increase supply so we are building 120,000 new home a year by 2033
- Talk to them about housing associations being ready to drive large scale regeneration programmes, the supported housing provided for thousands of older and vulnerable people and that the sector will continue to invest in communities.
We have put together a briefing for you to give to candidates, which sets out three transformative offers from different parts of the sector, along with three asks that we’d like the candidate to work on should they be elected.
To support your conversations, you might also find the following resources helpful:
- data on the sector’s delivery of new supply over the past year
- data on your local housing market – Home Truths and Housing Counts
- answers to tricky questions – both from the media and the candidate
Let us know about any visits you have arranged as soon as possible so we can support you and promote them.
Candidates will be keen to be seen out and about in the local community, so anything you can do to help publicise their visit will be much appreciated and will help to build a positive relationship with them.
Here are some ways you can publicise the visits, although you may have your own creative ideas to really make a splash:
- Take a photo of the candidate with the campaign board ‘Working together for great homes’.
- Post pictures from the day on social media using #GE17housing and #GE2017.
- Use our poster maker to combine an image of the candidate with a quote or the campaign slogan.
- Invite the local press along by sending a press notice of the visit you have arranged.
- Try to get a quote from candidates to include in your press work.
- Send the candidates the pictures from the day and encourage them to do their own press. You could also use our poster maker tool to create a poster for the candidate and send through for them to use on social media.
It may seem obvious but remember to get in touch with the candidate again to thank them for their time.
Because of the short time frame for this election, some of your local candidates might not be able to pay you a visit. You can still make contact with them over social media (use #GE17housing and #GE2017).
You can also write a letter to the editor of your local paper setting out your organisation’s willingness to work with all parties to end the housing crisis.
And then after the election, get in touch with the candidate who has been elected to continue the relationship.
Please let us know about your meetings, on social media using #GE17housing and by email to share any political intelligence.
Rest assured that events such as the organizing of hustings, or inviting a parliamentary candidate to visit a scheme, are highly unlikely to involve any breach of you legal responsibilities at election time, provided you avoid any implication of supporting or opposing any particular candidate or party. We have updated our briefing on the Lobbying Act, which also includes a note of the responsibilities of charitable bodies at election time. This briefing goes into these issues in more detail.