I’ve received responses from all but 2 departments (Ministry of Deference and Ministry of Justice) that I approached, but what do the final totals tell us about the way that they’re responding to the actions that we’re sending them?
1. Real variation in numbers between department – I’m not surprised to see the Treasury come top of the survey as it feels indicative of the importance of the department and George Osbourne in a time of declining government budgets, but it’s interesting to see how few actions that No10 appears to have received in the 12 month period.
I’d expected to see more actions being sent to the Departments of Health and Education, but perhaps organisations that focus on these issues have been channeling their resources to influence MPs who have been involved in scrutinising key pieces of legislation going through Parliament.
The table below has a breakdown of the number of actions different departments have received.
2. Big differences in how departments handle campaign actions – The quality of the responses I’ve received has really varied. At the top departments like DFID and DEFRA, incidentally both departments that you sense deal regularly with civil society organisations, have been able to provide me with detailed breakdowns by organisation, action and topic.
At the other end of the scale some departments weren’t able to provide me with any breakdown at all, see Department of Culture, Media and Sport as a good example.
Most departments fall somewhere in the middle, but the exercise has really highlighted to me that we can’t assume as campaigners that our actions are immediately recorded and passed upwards to Ministerial teams. It’s vital that we combine our handovers of campaign actions with other method of notification to staff in Ministerial Offices.
3. What’s in a title? It’s been alarming to see how much of a campaign message seems to be lost when the actions are grouped together. If this is the sort of information that is being processed is a list of actions by title which then gets passed up to Ministers in one form or another, then I’m not sure actions entitled ‘Inspired’ or titles like ‘Get Clever about Climate Cash’ are very clear on what they’re asking for. It seems to me the most effective are those that can be easily summarised like ‘Bingo Say No to 22% Tax’ or ‘Support New Jobs with a Green Investment Bank’ are likely to be clearer at speaking to the policy change that’s being requested. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport was very helpful in providing me with information about how they display this information to Ministers.
I’ve also been struck by the number of responses that I got that didn’t include details of the organisations behind the actions (despite explicitly asking for this information). If organisation are also using campaign actions as a way of building broader influence with government departments.