Raising political profiles

ClientStonewater
LocationNational
Services

Background

becg is retained to provide public affairs support for Stonewater, a housing association with 31,500 units across England. becg was initially tasked with providing stakeholder engagement backing at a local level to support development sites. However, the initial brief developed to become a national public affairs programme, focussed on raising quickly Stonewater’s profile with political stakeholders in Westminster and influencing the direction of Government policy.

Key project information

becg works with Stonewater on a public affairs strategy aimed at:

  • Increasing engagement with political stakeholders, both ministers and key stakeholders, as well as those who represent Stonewater schemes
  • Creating depth in key theme areas, with clear recommendations and asks
  • Identifying opportunities and developing ideas for research and thought-leadership pieces with a research partner
  • Putting these ideas out in the political and housing arenas
  • Being seen as one of a “go to group” by Government in relation to the Housing Association sector
  • Developing the ability of the Executive Team to engage with political stakeholders and the political agenda, including Select Committee training
  • Ensuring good-quality input for key political calls for information.

How we assisted

Following an immersion session to tease out topics of particular interest to Stonewater, becg produced a detailed Public Affairs and influencing strategy for Stonewater, setting out three potential research topics based on different parts of their business. We then developed early thoughts for the scope and detail of the research, including potential research partners and how the findings should be couched to maximise political buy-in.

becg has supported Stonewater to identify opportunities to engage with MPs, Peers and Ministers on a variety of issues, including social housing rents, supported housing, barriers to development, and the need to ensure that Brexit does not impact on housing associations and its ability to borrow money to develop new homes. This has included meetings with senior officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government to advise on forthcoming changes to rent levels for social housing providers, which ultimately was announced along the lines that Stonewater had been seeking.

Our work with Stonewater has also led to:

  • 4 meetings held with Ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Department for Work and Pensions
  • 18 meetings with political stakeholders
  • Attendance Party Conferences, which led to 10 conversations with Government Ministers on a range of subjects related to Stonewater’s work
  • 4 site visits by local MPs to demonstrate the work Stonewater does in their communities, and a further one with the Housing Minister scheduled for the new year
  • 11 consultation responses to Government and Select Committee inquiries
  • Attendance at 3 invite-only events with the Chancellor of the Exchequer

Outcome

The past two years have seen a significant increase in the name recognition of Stonewater in the political sphere. The activity outlined above, alongside the political engagement strategy devised by becg, has led to Stonewater being invited to meet with several Government Ministers and civil servants about the direction of policy affecting the housing sector, ahead of policy announcements that echoed Stonewater’s views on social housing rents and supported housing. In addition, Stonewater has become the industry ‘voice’ on the issue of European funding for the housing association sector in the UK post-Brexit, and with becg’s support continues to engage in the political process and achieve its thought-leadership ambition.