National media relations and influencing policy

Background

As the national body of social landlords, Communities that Work’s goal is to remove the barriers to employment for social housing tenants and to tackle in-work poverty. Over the past 18 months, BECG has helped Communities that Work strengthen its position as the leading voice in housing and employment.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the face of a dramatic rise in unemployment, BECG supported Communities that Work with its cross-sector collaboration as it joined forces with key organisations from the employment, skills, and youth sectors to help kick start the UK’s economic recovery.

Key project information

Drawing on its 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.

BECG helped Communities that Work develop this into two core components: leading the set up of the Housing and Employment COVID-19 Taskforce and the Opportunity Guarantee scheme.

Effective collaboration was key, with Communities that Work – a small organisation with only 1.5 members of permanent staff – needing to bring the Taskforce together from a significant number of larger organisations across the housing, employment, skills and youth sectors.

The challenge was to unite all influential partners through the Taskforce with a clear objective of ensuring share of voice at Government-level, and to make an impact all the way to Number Ten.

The Opportunity Guarantee was the key campaign deliverable; building an ‘offer’ and an ‘ask’ that could help to kick start the UK’s economic recovery by investing in jobs of the future, helping people access the jobs market and providing opportunities for young people. The challenge here was to draw out Government commitment to support the scheme.

How we assisted

BECG led on the development of the Housing and Employment COVID-19 Taskforce, and established Communities that Work as the Chair, positioning our client as the leading sector voice and an issues-focused membership body.

Working collectively with other Taskforces, the Housing and Employment COVID-19 Taskforce sought to ask Government to invest in the new Opportunity Guarantee that:

  1. Promotes job creation by investing in the jobs that we need for the future
  2. Doubles the capacity in services that help people into jobs, with greatest support for those facing disadvantage
  3. Provides an education place, apprenticeship, or job for every young person

BECG led the campaign to secure government buy in – through an approach that secured cross-sector support, brought in high profile political support, and set out a clear media strategy that secured coverage in the Sunday Times.

To take forward the Opportunity Guarantee, BECG led on the creation of an ‘open letter’ approach – using national media as the platform for a direct appeal to the Prime Minister to secure the Government’s public commitment to the scheme.

Outcome

Through its wide network of contacts, BECG 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.

Communities that Work was delighted that 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.

Ahead of ONS Labour Market figures being released on 16 June, BECG worked to ensure that the open letter was published in 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.

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