Lobbying and policy are possibly not the most exciting or glamorous elements of doing business, but in the background, they’re constantly working to influence decisions, sway opinion, and articulate your business’s hopes, fears, and interests, at local, regional, and national level.
In this blog, we demystify what lobbying is, why it’s important, and how we at Bedfordshire Chamber make it work better and more effectively for you than other lobbying organisations might.
What is lobbying?
The word “lobbying” comes from the old practice of waiting in the lobby of the Houses of Parliament to buttonhole MPs as they emerged from session, in an attempt to influence their decisions through conversation.
Whilst some lobbyists still operate this way, methods tend now to be rather more sophisticated – phone calls, emails, messaging, written correspondence, social media polls, organised forums and meetings – but the principle remains the same.
It’s about communicating with those in positions of legislative power to make your opinions heard and to influence policymaking in your favour – whether that’s about tax, export law, access to funding, the skills shortage, or whatever other issues are likely to impact your business now and in the future.
What does Chamber lobbying achieve?
Let’s take a few examples from our own lobbying activities. As one of 53 Chambers belonging to the wider British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) network, our lobbying reach spans local, regional, and national policymakers and regulators.
As part of that network, our lobbying was instrumental, for example, in getting the Government to set up the Future Fund, which significantly closed the gaps in the financial support offered to certain types of business during the Covid pandemic.
Lobbying has also driven many other outcomes that have shaped the economy in Chamber members’ favour – from reforms to free childcare, to employer funding for T-Level placements, to energy cost support, to changes to tax and NI policy - and more.
And it’s a continuing and ongoing process – there isn’t a day goes by that we don’t have multiple irons in many lobbying fires on our members’ behalf.
What about other lobbying groups?
Lobbying doesn’t actually require a group of any kind – any individual can lobby, as long as they have access to a computer and a phone. But without the relevant experience or the expertise, it can be difficult to approach it effectively.
Lobbying also requires a significant time investment that many businesses simply don’t have available, and this is why many businesses choose to join groups that can lobby on their behalf.
However, there’s a note of caution to sound here: some lobbying groups are geared towards representing businesses selectively, based on criteria like how much those businesses are prepared to invest in the process.
It’s one way of doing things. But let’s be clear: it’s not our way. We’re an unbiased organisation that treats all its members (and their people) with the same respect, dignity, and service ethic.
We regularly canvas members’ views on business issues – through focus groups, member events, online polls, or just friendly chats - and we lobby in the interests of those members regardless of their size, sector, revenue, or profits.
In short, we’re determined that all voices should be heard – not just those belonging to businesses with deep pockets.
Sign up and be counted
By joining the Chamber, and the wider BCC network at no extra cost, you’ll ensure your business’s voice carries further, and reaches the decision-makers who matter.
And in today’s challenging economy, it pays to have someone fighting your corner at that top table.