News & Insights

The impact of the pre-election period on consultation and engagement

With a snap General Election now planned for Thursday 4th July, many of our members and clients working within the public sector will need to consider the impact of the pre-election period on their consultation and engagement activities.

The pre-election period of sensitivity mostly relies, not on law, but on a conventional wisdom that accepts that it is better to avoid some situations in the period immediately before an Election. 

  • For General Elections, Governments shut down their policy-making efforts unless an emergency arises. Civil servants avoid doing or saying anything that might favour outgoing Ministers or campaigning oppositions. Non-urgent decisions that could possibly be overturned by a new administration are just deferred until afterwards
  • Local Authorities are similarly constrained and as for the Westminster model, must avoid anything that could be seen as favouring one election candidate or party at the expense of another
  • The 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity has a section entitled Care during period of heightened sensitivity which warns of the dangers of publishing anything controversial that identifies elected members. It even says, “It may be necessary…to close public forums…” It also states that “local council communications should not use public funds to mount publicity campaigns that seek to influence voters at any time of year.” Similar codes operate in Scotland and Wales.

So, although there is not a blanket ban, explore the appetite and risk level of your organisation. Avoiding public meetings may be recommended, but continuing with co-design activities that may not require as much communications could be vital in keeping your communities engaged and to encourage civic participation.

Over 100 MPs have already announced they are standing down, with others set to follow. With current polls suggesting that a change in Government is expected, managing risk and navigating uncertainty is crucial. If you have a live project that you’re concerned the General Election and pre-election period may impact, utilise your tCI membership benefit ‘Ask the Expert’ to get some free advice. There is not a one-size fits all approach and we are here to help.

Get in touch with us here or call 01767 318350, or directly contact your account manager Rebecca Wright or Sophie Coates.

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