The hallmark of an effective public policy advocate is influence. And the ultimate test is to persuade government to commit energy and resources to the cause. Set-piece policy statements, such as Spending Reviews and Budgets in the UK, are golden opportunities because policymakers are in the market for ideas. Here’s how to make the most effective pitch for these occasions...
Wherever you work as a policy advocate, set-piece financial statements by governments will loom large in your diary. The biggest dimensions of public policy are decided there. There's tax, public spending, priorities for investment and reform. Engaging with these effectively is all about speed and focus. But these must flow from solid foundations of influence and stakeholder involvement…
Test the waters with government – what kind of Budget is it? Budgets close to major political events are more often ‘change’ than ‘continuity’ statements. Influential submissions must align their content to the ambition and policy focus of the times.
Submit proposals weeks before the formal deadline if possible. A major financial statement is a whole-government exercise of proposing and developing ideas. In the UK they involve thousands of civil servants. The earlier that advocates pitch into this process the better for their cause.
Choose a focused theme for the pitch not a vague catch-all. Pushing for your priorities here is about battling to be heard. Not just in the corridors of power but across all channels of influence. As in any public policy campaign, a clear goal beats wide-ranging verbiage every time.
Present one or two headline proposals not a big wishlist. A single headline ask focuses government representatives on your priorities. And the likelihood of your negative reaction across the media if they go unmet. All-encompassing wishlists can be – and are – safely ignored.
Include costs but don't over-share with the funding advice...Including an estimate of the static cost of your proposal to the taxpayer is essential to its credibility. But don’t get into a tangle by suggesting where the money should come from - unless the proposed reform generates revenue by design.
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