National media relations and influencing policy

Background

Communities that Work is the leading national membership body of social landlords, representing over 1.3m homes, who are rising to the challenge of helping people access employment opportunities.

Government data revealed that unemployment rates during Covid-19 were highest in regions with higher numbers of social residents. With the anticipated end of the furlough scheme, the nation faced a looming unemployment crisis. We aimed to prevent an unemployment crisis caused by Covid-19 by securing meaningful action from government.

Drawing on our extensive housing industry experience and Government reach, BECG identified a strategic opportunity for Communities that Work to inform and influence the policy agenda focused on economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

How we assisted

BECG set up the Covid-19 Housing and Employment COVID-19 Taskforce to bring leaders from the employment and housing sectors together to make the case to government, and placed Communities that Work as the chair to position them as the leader.

Our key messages isolated three areas of concern, which were identified from consultation with industry partners and backed up by evidence. Through this narrowed focus we developed three key policy asks, collectively known as an “Opportunity Guarantee”:

  • Secure opportunities for young people and guarantee the choice of an education place, apprenticeship or job.
  • Support people into work by doubling the capacity in Jobcentres to help people access the jobs market.
  • Promote job creation by investing in the jobs that we need for the future.

We worked with the Taskforce to secure support from over 260 organisations – including Heathrow Airport, Asda, Capita, Bupa – as well as 13 MPs and Lords and mayors for Liverpool, Sheffield and North of Tyne.

BECG secured placement of the Open Letter in the The Sunday Times on 14 June. The letter was amplified further by political editor, Tim Shipman in his editorial. Over the next few days, BECG secured additional national and sector media coverage – including the Daily Mail and Inside Housing.

We utilised existing relationships to secure allies in Parliament and engage MPs, and drive pressure to No. 10.

Outcome

Through our wide network of contacts, we coordinated the necessary Taskforce collaboration to support the letter, ensuring it reached a wide range of stakeholders to help shape national policy for ensuring the jobless receive employment support, education and training. 250 organisations signed the open letter to the Prime Minister, calling on Government to publicly commit to the Opportunity Guarantee. Signatories included major UK employers such as Asda, Bupa and Heathrow Airport, as well as the three metro mayors for Liverpool, Sheffield and North of Tyne, and the ex-civil service head Lord Kerslake.

The Prime Minister committed to an Opportunity Guarantee in a national address detailing his Covid-19 recovery roadmap, followed by the Chancellor unveiling funding to achieve all three policy asks and launching the government’s flagship Kickstart programme.

In total, the Opportunity Guarantee campaign secured from government:

  • The £2bn Kickstart Scheme, creating hundreds of thousands of work placements for young people.
  • Nearly £900m from government to double the number of work coaches in Jobcentres to 27,000.
  • A £3bn green investment package supporting 140,000 jobs.

Client testimonial

BECG has been at the forefront of our work across the social housing sector from the emergence of COVID-19. They know our organisation and have the ability to plan and strategise with us; making connections between our frontline strategy and our communications, our goals and our priorities, to best effect.  They’re at the heart of our public affairs work and have extended the reach of our organisation into national media, national government and local affairs, to great effect. BECG secure impact.

Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director, Communities that Work