Lobbying for housing? Tell us and win!

Watch out for new rules on political lobbying if you’re trying to make housing a big election issue in your area. Win a day’s free Creative Bridge consultancy.

With the next UK general election only eight months away, many housing providers, professional bodies and networks are busy engaging with national and local politicians and candidates to make the case for investment in affordable housing.

But the new Lobbying Act puts some restrictions on this sort of activity warns Ian Hembrow

Communities and people’s life-chances continue to be skewed by a chronic shortage of affordable homes and the lowest rates of housebuilding for generations. So we should all be doing our bit to propel housing up the political agenda. 

In the run-up to the general election on 7 May 2015, The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (or Lobbying Act for short!) requires any organisation spending more than £20,000 on ‘regulated activities’ to register with the Electoral Commission.

Regulated activity includes staff and other costs of producing materials and running events that passes both of two tests:

  • Purpose test: anything that can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote a certain way (for example, publicly promoting or opposing policies closely associated with one political party, such as the Bedroom Tax or Right to Buy).
  • Public test: anything that can be seen or heard by, or involves all of your customers or the general public.

If any of your lobbying plans that fall into these categories mean spending more than £20,000 in total (or £9,750 in any single constituency) before election day, you must register now.

Admittedly there’s lots else going on at home and abroad to distract attention, but housing affects everyone, everywhere, and there’s plenty of evidence that, if we carry on as we are, things are going to get worse. So we should be urging our current and prospective leaders to adopt radical ideas and take quick action.

To quote the BBC Home Affairs Editor Mark Easton: “Sadly, housing just isn’t sexy.”

The trade bodies are trying hard – for example with the Chartered Institute’s ticking the box for housing campaign, and the National Housing Federation’s Yes to Homes and an ambition to deliver. But we need more cut-through to the population as a whole, especially at local level where elections are ultimately won and lost.

Tell us what you’re doing to make housing a big issue in your area. We’re seeking the best examples of local campaigns and influencing from across the country.

Just email us by 5pm on Friday 31 October, with details of how you’re making an issue out of housing. The approach we like most will win a free day’s consultancy from Creative Bridge (worth £800) to use as you like.

We’re standing by…