We recently welcomed PLMR Adviser Rt. Hon Anne Milton for a private roundtable with PLMR clients where she shared her experiences from her time in government in several different departments and provided advice on how best to engage with MPs and Ministers.
We’ve outlined some of Anne’s top tips that she shared at our roundtable below:
Strong relationships with civil servants are key
Whilst ministers and secretaries of state are the ultimate decision-makers, they are busy people and move between departments, often with little notice. Therefore, alongside raising your profile with ministers, it is vital to develop strong civil-servant relationships. This will allow you to keep relevant Departments up to date with your work and ensure you are seen as a reliable partner and a sounding board. Plus, as civil servants are the gatekeepers to ministerial access, positive civil-servant relationships are key to ensuring productive conversations with ministers.
Joining forces with other sectors can be powerful
Ministers in government, receive representations for change from a large number of different groups within a sector but there is often common ground amongst those groups. Do seek to align your key asks with others to get broad support. If there is an argument for your ask on economic grounds, business grounds, health grounds etc., then it’s worth speaking to leading organisations and trade bodies to see if they’ll support the campaign. That way you can show the strength of support for the changes to government, and it becomes harder to ignore.
The Treasury remains powerful
Assume all financial decisions need to be signed off by officials and ministers in HM Treasury. Therefore, to avoid your campaign being derailed by the Treasury, make sure you are developing relationships with relevant civil servants within the Treasury and are able to outline why the Government’s spend is necessary.
Leverage MPs with links to your industry (or create those links yourself!)
Gaining a groundswell of support from backbench MPs is critical to ensure your campaign is heard. To help grow your MP supporters’ network, work out how your issue can be linked to an MP’s constituency or the issues MPs campaign on. If it might affect an MP’s constituents, consider encouraging your supporters to write to their local MP. It might also be appropriate to suggest the MP visits a local site, or one of your supporters could shadow their local MP for half a day to enable them to hear first-hand how their life is affected by the particular issue.