Voting; not lobbying – how to achieve policy changes

I’ve had a number of conversations recently, both on Twitter and face-to-face, about the frustrations of people in social housing about the sector’s inability to influence public policy. There’s an awful lot of lobbying going on, but it doesn’t seem to be having anything like the desired effect.

Well, here’s an idea. How many people are there who work in social housing in the UK? I don’t know the figures, but I can guarantee you that it’s a fraction of the numbers who actually live in accommodation provided by the sector. And, it is also a fact that voter turnout at elections is lower in areas where incomes are low.

It therefore seems to me that, if the social housing sector wants to achieve policy changes sympathetic to its agenda, the most effective means might just be by putting more effort into ensuring that its tenants vote at elections, rather than by lobbying. And this strategy has the added bonus of being about enhancing democracy as well.

I am not suggesting social landlords should be influencing how their tenants vote; that would probably be counter-productive in any case. But I do think they should play a role in ensuring that their tenants are registered to vote and that they are enabled to vote when elections come around.

OK, so they might not all vote for the policies which the professionals want. That’s the risk you take with democratic processes. But I firmly believe the social housing sector would benefit greatly from a more politically engaged customer-base. They might not vote for social housing-sympathetic policies every time, but then again, they just might…

3 thoughts on “Voting; not lobbying – how to achieve policy changes

  1. I can think of dozens of reasons why the above is naive – not least that every industry needs and has a lobby and all of those other industries are far better at lobbying that the inept and fictitious construct called the housing ‘sector.’

    Yet the most obvious one is those who are disenfranchised through not registering to vote are young people who, statistically, live in the PRIVATE rented sector and not in social housing.

    The larger in size PRS has 51% of its tenants being under 35 while social housing has just 19% of its tenants under 35 – or in numbers about 2.1 million in the PRS and just 0.7 million in social housing or three-quarters of those who are most likely not registered to vote dont live in social housing!

    Maybe for once FACTS can tell a story rather than sophistry!

    • Thanks Joe. I don’t think any of what you have to say negates my point. I can’t argue with your stats, but it is still true that there are far too many disengaged people living in social housing. I also believe that there is a possibility of doing something about this in social housing, whereas the prospects of organised change in the private rented sector is a near impossible challenge

      • John, you also inferred that this could have the opposite effect and I agree with that. Yet also just voting is a once in 5 year challenge and social housing needs to lobby like all other industries do on a daily basis and not leave it to the whims of its customers every 5 years. Social housing simply does not lobby and it needs to even if the government of the day are not seeking to destroy it as this coalition and potential future Tory administration are

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