Four ways to influence policy in your pyjamas

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Working from home

Since we’re all likely to be working from home for the foreseeable future, we present our guide to influencing policy in your pyjamas (note: these tips work just as well if you do decide to get dressed).

Social distancing may be the order of the day, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop your policy engagement activities. There are actually a surprising number of useful things you can do from home.

Even if you’ve never worked with policy makers before, now could be a great time for you to try something new and deliver impact for your research.

Ready to embrace your inner lounge lobbyist? Then read on.

1) Respond to a consultation

Before the government introduces new policies or prepares new Bills to take to parliament, they will often issue a public consultation. This is your chance to help shape the direction of policy. 

Getting involved at an early stage is important. This is the time when policy makers are in listening mode and there is time for a close look at the details. It can be harder to change things later on.

To get started, take a look at this list of open consultations in the UK. Right now, there are consultations on low-carb diets for people with diabetes, reforms to the Retail Prices Index methodology and the introduction of E10 petrol to reduce transport emissions – to mention just a few.

2) Contribute to parliamentary scrutiny

Similarly, you can also lend your expertise to help MPs and Lords scrutinise legislation and the work of government. One way to do this is by sending evidence to a select committee, which is quite similar to responding to a consultation.

Again, there are plenty of open opportunities around at the moment. Have you got something to say about the security of 5G? Flooding? Espionage? Find these, and other opportunities, on the UK Parliament website.

The Environmental Audit Committee are also asking people to share their views on a series of proposed inquiries, covering topics from household energy efficiency to sustainability of crop management. A great opportunity for you to help shape what MPs will be discussing over the coming months.

There are also a number of Bills going through Parliament at the moment, such as the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill. You could take a look at some of the Bills currently being discussed and feed in your ideas, either by preparing a submission for a public bill committee or by writing an online critique.

3) Write that briefing note

Taking the time to write a briefing note that summarises your research and makes clear recommendations for policy makers to act upon would definitely be a good use of your time.

You’d be surprised how effective a well-written briefing note can be in policy discussions. In essence, they’re all about presenting your research or expertise in an easily-digestible format for busy policy makers. 

Check out our handy guide to writing briefing notes.

4) Learn a new skill

You can also take this time to develop your understanding of politics and policy making, so that you’re ready to hit the ground running when normal service is resumed.

Why not start by looking at our written guides? These short documents cover everything from getting started in policy engagement through to influencing legislation and parliamentary proceedings. 

And, as a quick heads-up, we’ve been working on some new digital resources to help you become an influential player in policy making circles. Watch this space…

Stay in touch

Drop us a line if you’d like to discuss how to engage with policy makers while working remotely. We’re happy to answer your questions either by email or Skype if you’d like to say hello!

Author: Jeremy Swan, Public Affairs Manager (Policy Impact)

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