Public Affairs in Practice: A Practical Guide to Lobbying by Stuart Thomson

By Stuart Thomson

Public kinfolk in Practice

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The Budget is not set in stone from day one and again is open to lobbying. There is a large degree of political input in decisions about priorities and spending but it remains up to HM Treasury and its various advisers, economists and statisticians about how this shapes up into a Budget. Option papers are drawn up by bodies such as HM Treasury and other government bodies in this area such as HM Customs & Revenue (HMCR). Those interested in helping to shape the tax and spend policies of government will want to be involved as early as possible in the development of the Budget.

The civil service remains charged with implementing government policy. Authority no longer resides solely in government departments. Since the 1980s, parts of the civil service have been moved into Executive Agencies that are meant to reflect more accurately the ethos of the private sector. In addition, there has been a substantial rise in the role of regulation and of the Regulators, again since the 1980s and the roll-out of privatization. It is more accurate to think of government as now covering:  departments – each having some autonomy over its areas of policy;  regulatory bodies – which exist to keep a watch on specialist sectors and the companies within them, eg the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Ofcom, Ofgem, Office of Fair Trading, Competition Commission;  agencies – often charged with carrying out the commercial parts of government business, eg the Passport Agency; 28 The art of lobbying  non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) – issues that need to be moved away from the day to day control of a department are given to a NDPB, eg Health Education Authority, Countryside Commission;  quasi-judicial bodies – established where the remit appears to fall between the department and the courts, eg the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, Local Government Commission.

Whether your campaign is designed to raise your profile, protect your reputation, or change the law it will undoubtedly fail unless you know how the issues are viewed by politicians. You also need to know – right from the outset of any campaign – who is on your side and (equally important) who is going to be opposing you. The best provider will offer state of the art technology – combined with people possessing the political skills and experience to interpret the monitoring and provide the political intelligence.

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