One voice, united to influence change

25th Oct 2016

 

As a UK citizen, you have many representatives, at several levels of industry and govern-ment and each of them has a different set of responsibilities. The Hot Water association, HWA, which represents the domestic hot water industry, from manufacturers to installers is one of those representatives, your local MP is too.

The HWA lobby Government on your behalf regularly with the intention of ensuring policy reflects the needs of the UK and the domestic hot water industry. Sometimes trying to be heard can use a lot of energy, that’s why the HWA was created, to give everyone in the supply chain one voice.

One of the most effective things installers can do to support the industry’s messages, and get their voice heard, is to write to their local MP.

You’ll often hear people say, "I’m going to write to my MP" when something upsets them; tax problems, issues with public services etc. But few think to write to their MP’s about the industry in which they work.

MP’s make decisions on policies which have a direct effect on day to day business. Making sure they are fully informed will help to ensure the needs of the UK are reflected in policy decisions.  Part of your MP's job, is to represent YOU and your views in Parliament. In order to represent your views, your MP needs to know what they are, and be educated about how they affect your business.

So, does writing to your MP really make a difference?

Absolutely! If your MP receives one letter demanding energy storage for every home, so that a renewable ready solution is inbuilt for example, she, or he,might think 'hmmmm that's a nice idea, but I don't think we have the money for such a scheme at the moment'. However, if she received 500 or 1000 letters, her response would be very different - more along the lines of 'goodness gracious, I better lobby for energy storage for my constituents, otherwise they might vote me out in the next election!'

Lobbying is an essential tool for securing changes to policy and legislation, as well as building relationships with key stakeholders and decision-makers. An MP will want to help constituents or employers in their constituency, increased member engagement in lobbying will help HWA to build on its profile in Parliament and with Government. This will help to strengthen the Association's position in meetings and negotiations, as a strong and vocal lobby of members and supporters, which can often be an influencing factor when policy decisions are made.

Effective campaigning can be achieved in five key steps, and this broad approach can be used in a range of circumstances, for example, when writing a letter, meeting an MP, or giving a presentation or speech.

  1. Background - Set the scene in a couple of sentences.

Example: 'As you may know, recent changes to X have led to Y.'

  1. Issue - How this has affected you and your customers? MPs in particular will be most interested in hearing about how the issue affects their constituents, as consumers of a service you provide.

Example: 'As a result, I/my business/my clients have been affected in this way.'

  1. Importance  - What impact could this have? For example, if your business serves a local population, how many will or have been affected? What type of clients are they? You will need to demonstrate why this is an issue that your MP cannot ignore. Linking it back to the national picture is useful but if you can illustrate why it is important in your MP's constituency it will be very effective.

Example: 'This has had an impact on X and could lead to Y.'

  1. Solution - It is likely that the HWA will have some proposals to address the issues. We can provide you with key messages for this if you are unclear of the policy solutions.

Example: 'One solution could be X and could have Y effect.'

  1. Support - What can your MP do to support you or the campaign? Suggest an action, or course of actions; again, the HWA will be able to provide this if necessary. An 'ask' also provides an opportunity for follow-up, and potentially, relationship-building.

Example: 'I would be grateful if you could do X in support of Y.'

This general approach will enable you to prepare a short and impactful statement that can be replicated for different audiences and settings.

Also for national issues, instead of writing directly to a Cabinet Minister, you can write to your MP or a list MP based in your region, and ask them to pass on the letter to the appropriate Minister. This is more effective as: the letter arrives directly from the office of the electorate MP, who is obliged to hear your concerns and pass on the letter to the appropriate Minister this is the more formal channel, and is likely to be prioritised as you are being represented by your MP

Influencing policy can help to shape the industry in which we all thrive. It can also drive innovation. As ever, HWA members will be pleased to offer advice on key industry messages. You can find member details ‘quickly’ on the HWA website www.hotwater.org.uk.