We work with a wide range of companies, organisations, charities, trade associations, overseas governments and consumer groups.
(Use case study links to find out more)
Current and former clients include:
Client Profile and Issue
The All-Party Parliamentary Media Group is a forum for discussion within Parliament on public policy as it affects the media sector, formed in 1992. Its membership is drawn from all political parties and both Houses of Parliament. It meets regularly to receive an address and have a short discussion with key players from the media industry, its regulatory agencies, and government ministers. It is an impartial, efficiently-run organisation, which provides a useful interface between Parliament, the industry and other key stakeholders.
Our approach was to position the Media Group from the outset as the pre-eminent forum within Parliament for the discussion of public policy on the media. We provide an efficient and professional secretariat that is completely impartial to all party political considerations and all interests within the industry. We organise a programme of regular meetings for the Group as well as a series of policy breakfasts and an annual reception attended and addressed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media And Sport. The Chair of the Group is a former journalist and TV presenter and its other officers bring substantial credibility from a wide range of backgrounds in the media and policy-making community.
The Media Group is now acknowledged as a leading forum for discussion in Parliament and its work is sponsored, at arms length, by the BBC, BSkyB, ITV, Channel 4 Television, Time Warner and Walt Disney. It makes a valuable contribution to raising the quality of debate on media policy in Parliament and is greatly valued both by ministers and by industry.
The work of the Media Group also gave rise to the now-independent Westminster Media Forum which organises regular keynote national seminars on important developments in media policy.
Client Profile and Issue
The British Gurkha Welfare Society (BGWS) is largest welfare organisation supporting Gurkhas in the UK and Nepal. Founded in 2004, the BGWS has been one of the leading campaigners on issues of Gurkha welfare including settlement and pension rights.
The Gurkhas were brought fully into the public consciousness in 2009, when a Joanna Lumley-led campaign overturned the policy of the then-Government and secured settlement rights for Gurkhas who had retired before 1997 – opening the door for these veterans to relocate to the UK.
The BGWS has since continued to push on with the campaign for Gurkha welfare, particularly on the issue of pensions. While Gurkhas who retired before 1997 have the right to settle in the UK, they still do not receive a pension equal to those of their former British colleagues – leaving many in Nepal in desperate financial need and forced to relocate to the UK, often leaving family and friends behind, in order to achieve a better quality of life. However, many as these Gurkhas have found themselves just above the poverty line and reliant on State support.
In October 2009 the BGWS won the right to a judicial review of the Ministry of Defence’s pensions policy. The High Court returned a verdict against the Gurkhas in January 2010, with the decision subsequently upheld in October 2010 by the Court of Appeal.
Whitehouse has continued to ensure that the BGWS voice is heard at every level of Parliament, and has maintained an energetic programme of MP briefing meeting and contributions of evidence to Select Committee proceedings.
We also assisted the BGWS in pushing forward the formation of the Gurkha Welfare All-Party Group, for which the BGWS provides secretariat support.
Whitehouse has also maintained an aggressive programme of public relations to support the BGWS efforts – particularly in relation to its ongoing legal case. Capitalising on the widespread public support for the Gurkhas, Whitehouse has arranged countless interviews for the BGWS’s spokesmen with UK national newspapers, television and radio – along with key international news outlets.
The BGWS is firmly recognised as the leading Gurkha voice for pensions equality, and continues to take its case to the Government.
Whitehouse has ensured that Gurkhas have never been far from the headlines – securing more than 600 pieces of UK and international coverage across news outlets including the BBC, Sky News, The Times, The Independent, Daily Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal.
Client Profile and Issue
The British Olympic Association (BOA) is the national Olympic body for the United Kingdom. It is responsible for selecting and taking members of Team GB to the Olympic Games, and for supporting and encouraging elite sport in Olympic disciplines. The BOA wished to mount a bid to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to London, but knew that such a bid would only succeed with active support from the government, the Mayor of London, and the opposition political parties.
By commencing an early dialogue with Ministers and with officials at the Department of Culture Media and Sport and the 10 Downing Street Policy Unit we were able to work to support the BOA in identifying the concerns and objections the government might have to the proposal. We organised a parallel initiative to identify, approach and brief the key Conservative and Liberal Democrat Spokespersons in both Houses of Parliament, and managed the regular submission of briefing notes to Parliamentarians prior to relevant debates in both Houses. We created opportunities for the BOA to disseminate its arguments about the tremendous benefits to the whole of the UK economy that a successful bid would bring, and helped them to convince government that the Prime Minister could confidently personally endorse the bid, despite its huge financial cost, because of the professionalism and thoroughness with which the BOA were preparing the detail of the project.
Over a period of three years behind the scenes work, the Government was persuaded that it could proceed confidently to endorse the Bid in the knowledge that it would have the support of the Mayor of London, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, as well as the overwhelming majority of MPs and Peers and the people of London. In July 2005, after an inspiring campaign by the bid team, the International Olympic Committee announced its selection of London as host city of the 2012 Olympic Games. Whitehouse is proud of the part we played in bringing the Games to London.
Client Profile and Issue
Formed in 1996, Consumers for Health Choice (CHC) is a campaigning organisation defending the interests of consumers of food supplements, herbal remedies and other natural health products. CHC has fought a lengthy and successful campaign against a series of regulations from the European Union that are overly restrictive and would, prevent UK consumers having continued access to safe and popular products traditionally used in the UK to achieve and maintain optimum health.
CHC has maintained an intensive lobbying campaign within the United Kingdom political environment to ensure that successive governments are at all times fully aware of the depth of concern about disproportionate regulatory developments. CHC has regularly briefed and lobbied all UK Members of the European Parliament, and members from other member states who serve on the key Environment Committee of that Parliament. We have also established an ongoing dialogue with officials of key Government agencies, including the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the nutrition section of which has now been transferred to the Department of Health, and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). CHC’s views are also registered when appropriate directly with the highest political levels of the European Commission.
A high media profile, the recruitment and deployment of high profile celebrity supporters, and a constant barrage of Parliamentary Questions, Early Day Motions, debates and other political activity, has kept pressure constantly on the UK Government to negotiate more actively for a more proportionate approach in Europe.
CHC has been lobbying hard for a light touch implementation of the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, and for the Food Supplements Directive to be implemented in a way that permits member states flexibility to allow products onto their national markets that lie outside its otherwise restrictive provisions.
CHC has now achieved a situation where it is fighting in Europe with the UK Government as an active and committed ally. At its 2010 Parliamentary Reception, an event that has been held annually for more than a decade, the Public Health Minister praised CHC’s campaign as one of the most effective she had ever observed.
Meanwhile many MEPs from across the European Union have signed up as patrons of CHC, and the Commission itself at Director General and Commissioner level is very much aware of CHC’s aims and objectives for legislation under discussion.
The FSA, now the Department of Health, and MHRA have long been committed to working with CHC and industry representatives to implement the legislation more in keeping with CHC’s aspirations.
CHC has also been congratulated in a House of Commons motion on its “persistent work...in keeping the future availability of the humble vitamin pill high upon the political and parliamentary agenda”.
Client Profile and Issue
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is an industry leading multi-national company with approximately one million vehicles in its global rental fleet. In the UK its current rental fleet is approximately 47,000, which makes it the largest car rental company and the biggest purchaser of vehicles in the country.
As part of its environmental initiative, Enterprise has developed the “WeCar” car club scheme designed to help local authorities and other public bodies reduce carbon emissions from their employee’s vehicles as well as reduce the cost of mileage reimbursement. Through this programme, Enterprise helped Woking Borough Council reduce the cost of its ‘grey fleet’ by 28% and carbon emissions from road travel by 10% in the first year.
Despite having a hugely effective service solution to the rising cost of mileage reimbursement, Enterprise needed expert advice on how best to influence decision makers in the public sector capable of incorporating that solution into their system and aligning the incentives of both parties for mutual benefit. Enterprise chose Whitehouse to help it with this task and refine its approach to a public sector audience.
Having assessed Enterprise’s key messages and aligning those with the efficiency challenges of the public sector, Whitehouse mapped out an engagement strategy and identified key budget holders and able to influence this agenda. It was important to ensure that our message was not only relevant, but aimed at the most appropriate audience. Our targeted approach ensured Enterprise gained access to decision makers and given face time to explain its service offer.
This work entailed a briefing event and reception for Enterprise at the annual Local Government Association conference, which developed Enterprise’s links with the world of local government and led to significant interest in their service offer. At the regional level, Whitehouse ensured that Enterprise were able to make its case through meetings at Transport for London and the Greater London Authority, including with Conservative MLAs and the Mayor of London’s advisor on environment and transport issues. The strategic value in relationship building was seen by our ability to maintain regular dialogue with influential stakeholders across the GLA family as they developed their transport policies.
Whitehouse secured the active engagement of the Secretary of State for Transport, Shadow Transport Ministers, members of the Transport Select Committee and prominent backbench MPs who were picking up the issue of grey fleet following our activity. This put pressure on the Government to look at the issue of grey fleet in a more holistic manner. Whitehouse recognised the strategic importance of the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group, tasked with identifying ways that public services could be delivered at greater value for money to the taxpayer. Whitehouse’s engagement with the group ensured that its members were made aware of the problem with grey fleet and the potential solutions on offer prior to the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, and secured an invitation for Enterprise to brief the Cabinet Office on its service offering directly.
Developing the most appropriate messaging, aligned to the needs of the public sector, was paramount in creating new opportunities for Enterprise and getting greater attention paid to the costs of grey fleet. It also put the issue on the national agenda.
Our focused engagement with Parliamentarians similarly helped to bring grey fleet to the attention of Ministers and marked the start of a process to secure guidance for the public sector on how best to manage grey fleet expenditure and take advantage of the range of alternatives offered by private sector providers such as Enterprise.
Whitehouse’s linked strategy for local government enabled Enterprise to identify the best way of identifying new sales leads by creating political pressure for the cost saving, directly creating a number of new business opportunities.
Whitehouse’s work for Enterprise is a stark illustration of how public affairs can be used as an indirect route to market, creating sales opportunities for companies and fostering a political climate in which specific service solutions become accepted practice.
Client Profile and Issue
ESSNA is a trade alliance representing the specialist product sector of the sports nutrition industry in Europe. It comprises members who have sales and marketing interests in specialist sports nutrition products in most of the member states of Europe.
The organisation was established to ensure that potentially threatening EU legislation on sports supplements was amended and to develop the image and profile of the sector. The legislation would have set unnecessarily low maximum permitted levels for popular products as well as set up a positive list system for particular ingredients. The latter would have meant that some existing products would have needed removing from the shelves, and that new product development and innovation would have been stifled.
As a new organisation it was first of all vitally important to build profile and to develop key messages. The Whitehouse Consultancy helped ESSNA members understand the European regulatory environment and supported them in putting together position statements on issues of import.
Once the ESSNA position had been agreed it was important to communicate this quickly to senior UK officials, Ministers, UK and European Parliamentarians and officials in the European Commission.
ESSNA explained the flaws in the draft regulation and ensured that pressure was brought to bear from a range of decision-makers prior to the European Commission deciding on its own work plan. The aim was to demonstrate to the Commission that it would have a political problem if the flawed legislation were brought forward as drafted.
By winning the support of the UK government and key MEPs as well as pressure from within the UK Parliament ESSNA ensured that the proposal was stopped pending industry agreement. ESSNA is now working with the wider industry movement to ensure that any legislation which is brought forward is proportionate and not damaging to small and medium sized enterprises.
ESSNA works with the World Anti Doping Agency, UNESCO and others in the development of a kite-marking scheme for sports supplements to ensure that consumers are fully and adequately protected.
Client Profile and Issue
The Field Studies Council (FSC) is an educational charity committed to bringing environmental understanding to all. Established in 1943, the FSC has become internationally respected for its national network of education centres and is the UK’s leading provider of field courses. In recent years, the FSC has seen fieldwork provision in science and biology decline in British schools. Currently 96% of GCSE science pupils will not experience a residential field trip.
Whitehouse has enabled the FSC to develop their public affairs activity over time, however the core focus has remained the same, including improving teacher training and seeking to promote fieldwork within the national curriculum. Over a number of years Whitehouse has worked with the FSC to run a successful public affairs campaign with the intention of raising awareness of the importance of fieldwork.
Due to the success of the campaign outdoor learning is now firmly on the political agenda, evident by the two select committee inquiries which have been undertaken on the issue in recent years. Both reports emphasised the importance of learning outside the classroom and recommended that it became an essential aspect of every child’s learning experience. As a result of public affairs work the Government also commissioned the Training and Development Agency to undertake a review of Qualified Teacher Status standards.
Past and present Ministers, shadow Ministers and other prominent Parliamentarians have given endorsements to the FSC’s campaign. The FSC has also been mentioned as an example of excellence by Education Ministers in written parliamentary answers and by Parliamentarians in debates. Furthermore, the Department for Education worked with the FSC on the Manifesto for Learning Outside the Classroom and are represented on the Board of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom which was launched in March 2009.
The FSC is also currently developing a proposal to build an urban education centre on the site of the Olympic stadium. Working with Whitehouse the FSC has generated positive support for this proposal from MPs, local councils and other Olympic partners. This has led to key MPs and Peers championing the centre. The FSC continue to maintain a high profile campaign in Westminster and Whitehall, allowing them to continue to pursue the core aspects of their campaign.
Client Profile and Issue
The Green Machine is a commercial supplier of vending machines to schools, offering healthy alternatives to the snack foods commonly found in many vending machines.
With 16% of all 2-15 year olds currently classified as being obese in the UK, and soft drinks and other unhealthy snack products being cited as a significant contributory factor, the Green Machine was keen to promote to key policy makers the value of its products in delivering a healthier diet option for children in schools, and it enlisted the help of the Whitehouse Consultancy to achieve this aims.
The public health issues surrounding children and young people were used as a platform for the Green Machine to establish itself as both a stakeholder in the debate on children’s nutrition and as part of the solution to the problem, stressing that as well as being lower in extrinsic sugars and unhealthy fats, all Green Machine products are free from any artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives.
By introducing Green Machine representatives to Parliamentarians and senior government officials, governors’ and teachers’ representatives and other key interest groups the Green Machine was able quickly to put its key messages to the people best placed to implement change.
Whitehouse ensured that information about the Green Machine was regularly fed into all relevant Government consultation exercises and kept high upon the public policy agenda through Parliamentary questions, letters to Ministers and high profile Parliamentary events.
The Green Machine is now widely recognised in Westminster, Whitehall and beyond as being part of a solution to the problem of poor health amongst school aged children. Through extensive profile raising and engagement with key decision makers the Whitehouse Consultancy has been able to help the Green Machine achieve references in key Government documents citing it as a healthier alternative to competitors’ products; and has helped the Green Machine establish a highly important relationship with school governors and the teaching profession.
Client Profile and Issue
The HFMA is the UK’s leading national trade association for manufacturers and distributors of a wide range of natural health products including food supplements, herbal remedies, organic and whole-foods, aromatherapy products, sports nutrition, slimming products, and other specialist items.
HFMA members have been threatened by a series of national and European regulatory developments that impose additional burdens upon manufacturers and limit not only the ingredients that may be used in products, and the levels at which they may be present, but also the comments which manufacturers and retailers are permitted to make in their advertising, promotional and marketing material, including on their web sites.
Our approach has been to position the HFMA both in the UK and in Europe as a powerful voice of the sector and to ensure that it punches above its weight in the corridors of power in Westminster, Whitehall and Brussels. By sustained and intensive lobbying, both nationally through the HFMA officers and locally through its individual members, the profile and impact of the Association’s campaigns have been increased. Active involvement with Parliamentarians both in Westminster and in the European Parliament was initiated and developed to position the HFMA as the source of authoritative information, comment and advice on the regulation of the sector.
Parliamentary questions, motions, debates, delegations to ministers, meetings at 10 Downing Street, lobbying visits to the European Parliament, meetings as the European Commission, and a willingness to challenge regulatory decisions in the High Court and the European Court of Justice have all been key elements of the strategy.
Today, the HFMA is the first port of call for regulators, officials and politicians seeking advice and information about the impact of new regulation on the specialist products sector. Its interests are now placed much higher on the agenda when new regulations are being considered, and the HFMA is continually in dialogue with all those whose decisions impact upon its members’ interests. Firm and robust commitments have been achieved both from the UK Government and from the European Commission about the way in which legislation will in future be developed and implemented.
Client Profile and Issue
The Holland and Barrett (H&B) Group is the UK's leading manufacturer and retailer of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. Holland & Barrett also owns health stores in the Republic of Ireland, and has expanded into Europe in 2003 with the acquisition of a health and beauty chain of stores in the Netherlands - a total of more than 600 retail outlets operating in three countries.
H&B’s commercial interests, and those of the whole specialist natural health products sector, have been threatened by a whole series of European directives and regulations that have greatly increased regulatory burdens, threatening the continued availability of many of the specialist products that are core to the H&B offer.
H&B has been positioned as the most active champion of consumer rights in the UK and as a defender of the interests of the whole industry, including the independent retailers who are H&B’s competitors. With a store in most Parliamentary constituencies in the United Kingdom, H&B branches have been used as lobbying hubs, briefing MPs, issuing leaflets to mobilise consumers, and displaying campaign posters when necessary.
Direct communication with MPs, Peers, 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet Office and key officials of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have been carefully managed to ensure that H&B’s concerns are noted at the highest possible level and that the company’s managing director has been personally involved, at the behest of government ministers, in finding practical solutions to the problems of over-burdensome regulations such as the Food Supplements Directive and the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive.
We also worked with H&B’s Managing Director to enhance the company’s influence within trade associations both within the UK and Europe; and secured a series of personal meetings with the most senior officials of the European Commission and build relationships with MEPs.
H&B gained regular access to 10 Downing Street and government ministers, hundreds of products that would have been lost to the natural health sector have been saved, and government agencies have now been specifically charged by ministers with the task of working in Europe to find real solutions to continuing regulatory problems. Consumer choice has been protected, the specialist products upon which an entire retail sector relies have been retained, and many specialist niche manufacturers have remained in the market as a direct result of the H&B lobbying efforts.
Client Profile and Issue
The LIFT Council is the representative body for the private sector partners involved in the delivery of facilities through Local Improvement Finance Trusts (LIFT), a government endorsed public-private sector partnership. More than 265 facilities have been developed and more than £2 billion in investment has been secured through the LIFT model since its inception in 2001.
Whitehouse was appointed to provide public affairs and media relations support, along with chairmanship and secretariat services, to the LIFT Council, the membership of which comprises more than 90% of the private equity investors in LIFT schemes.
From a starting point at which LIFT was often grouped together with other public-private partnership models, with its unique benefits and approach overlooked, Whitehouse sought to widen understanding of LIFT among opinion leaders and decision makers.
Key to this has been the explanation of LIFT’s successes to date and the demonstration of how the model can serve national infrastructure needs, in terms both of the development of facilities and of the rationalisation and maintenance of existing public sector estates. While LIFT has historically focused on the development of primary care facilities for the NHS, we have sought to demonstrate how the model could be applied to other policy areas.
The aim has been to ensure the widespread support of LIFT from all political parties in order to ensure its long-terms success in an uncertain economic climate.
Whitehouse has maintained an ongoing programme of engagement with policy and decision makers from all political parties, also communicating with key stakeholders and professional bodies within the NHS and maintaining an ongoing stream of media coverage to highlight the benefits of the LIFT model and ideas of the LIFT Council.
Through this activity we havea successfully positioned the LIFT Council not only as the voice of the industry, but as a key voice in the development of future public sector infrastructure strategy.
Client Profile and Issue
MAXIMUS partners with Governments around the world to provide critical health and human service programmes to a diverse range of communities, and operates in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. It is currently one of the Department for Work and Pensions’ accredited providers of the Work Programme, the Government’s flagship welfare to work scheme.
As a relatively new entrant to the UK public services market, MAXIMUS wanted to build its reputation in the policy environment to enable it to expand into the new markets that are emerging as a result of ongoing public sector reforms. This included effectively promoting its delivery of the Work Programme as an example of best practice to both Parliament and Government, particularly given the ongoing political contention surrounding the scheme and the resulting media attention.
Our approach was to position MAXIMUS from the outset as a leading international player in the welfare to work sector and to demonstrate how its expertise could be used to effectively tackle the UK unemployment challenge. We prepared briefing materials to ensure that the company’s key messages were aligned with the Government’s wider welfare reform agenda, including drawing on ‘lessons from abroad’ from similar welfare schemes the company runs in the US and Australia.
As part of our engagement strategy, Whitehouse assisted MAXIMUS in establishing relationships with key Government Ministers, Parliamentarians, civil servants and influential think tanks, enabling us to create opportunities for MAXIMUS to disseminate its experience and successes in the sector. This also entailed a local political engagement angle, assisting the regional MAXIMUS branches in setting up meetings with the constituency MPs in order to showcase its work ‘on the ground’, helping local MPs understand the important work that the company carries out in their communities.
Whitehouse have also provided practical advice to support MAXIMUS’ ongoing procurement bid work, assisting the company in building relationships with potential contract partners, as well as with the relevant procurement officials within Whitehall, and we have used our weekly monitoring service to gather intelligence to help inform bid work and identify potential new markets.
We have also maintained a press office for MAXIMUS to address any media enquiries.
Whitehouse has continued to ensure that MAXIMUS’ voice is heard at the highest level of Government and that Ministers and senior Government officials appreciate what the company is capable of doing to support the Government’s ambitious welfare reform agenda.
Through this activity we have successfully enabled MAXIMUS to identify opportunities to shape future contracts and create new business opportunities for the company, demonstrating the significant bottom line impact a successful public affairs strategy can deliver.
Our press office for MAXIMUS has also successfully addressed media enquiries directed at the company, ensuring that we have provided timely and accurate information to journalists’ that fully reflect MAXIMUS’ activities.
Client Profile and Issue
The Nappy Alliance is a trade body of nine independent providers of reusable nappies. The Alliance was established to promote the use of reusable nappies by highlighting the environmental benefits of waste minimisation, landfill reduction and reduced energy use, as well as highlighting the cost savings to both parents and local authorities. After successfully campaigning on this issue through Whitehouse previously – achieving increased awareness of the benefits of re-usable nappies and a review the Environment Agency’s re-usable nappies Life Cycle Assessment, resulting in the EA issuing an update which showed that re-usable nappies could be up to 40% better for the environment than disposables – the Nappy Alliance began campaigning again when the new Coalition Government launched a review of its waste strategy, with the aim of ensuring that waste minimisation is seen as a key priority and does not lose ground to recycling initiatives.
Whitehouse has acted as both the secretariat and public affairs advisers to The Nappy Alliance, a campaign which has gone from strength to strength over a period of several years. The campaign has been based on issues of waste and costs savings. After carefully planned, strategic engagement with key Parliamentarians and officials, support for the promotion of re-usables has grown. This support has been capitalised upon through a programme of parliamentary activity which ensures that all relevant inquiries and consultations, from waste reduction to sustainable development to NHS procurement, are made to consider the impact of disposable nappies and the benefits of reusables. The focus now is in ensuring that policymakers do not implement programmes which could have an adverse affect on waste minimisation, such as those which offer cash incentives for the volume of waste recycled.
Previous successes have secured dialogue with senior officials in the Department for the Environment responsible for both the Waste Strategy Review and the Waste Implementation Programme, as well as with Ministers in the Department of Health responsible for information which is made available to new parents.
This success has continued with the renewed lobbying campaign following the General Election, including ongoing dialogue with key officials responsible for the waste review within Defra resulting in assurances that the Government’s waste policy will have a strong focus on encouraging waste reduction.
There have also been successes in the devolved institutions, including dialogue with the Environment Advisor to Mayor Boris Johnson and with the Welsh Assembly Government. The Nappy Alliance has also built good relationships with other organisations working in this area, such as the Real Nappy Campaign and Real Nappies for London and has been able to present a strong and united message by working with these stakeholders.
Client Profile and Issue
Oxford Immunotec Ltd. is a specialist T-cell immunology company who develop and sell products based on T-SPOT™ technology that opens up new ways to diagnose and monitor infection. Their first commercial product to use T-SPOT technology is T-SPOT.TB, a blood test used to test for latent and active tuberculosis (TB) infection.
With growing rates of TB infection in the UK, coupled with a current testing regime which is over a century old, Oxford Immunotec realised the need to engage with the public policy making environment to promote their T-SPOT™ technology and to improve diagnostics in the UK.
With the knowledge that the current testing regime for TB was developed over 100 years ago, and delivers low accuracy rates, in comparison to the 96% accuracy of T-SPOT.TB, and in addition that the test, the Mantoux skin test, is unlicensed in the UK, it was clear Oxford Immunotec required immediate meeting programmes with senior parliamentarians and officials leading on the development of TB diagnostics. An audit of health policy in this area told us that the Chief Medical Officer had recently advocated using technological advances to control rates of TB, and that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) were undertaking guidelines on TB Management. Influencing the latter would be the primary objective and communications were sent from MPs, Peers and Shadow Secretaries of State to NICE to endorse the uptake of T-SPOT.TB.
Substantial headway was made, all health practitioners now advised that T.SPOT.TB has been identified as the most appropriate test for patients who are immunocompromised. The NICE guidelines acknowledged T-SPOT.TB, but do not go far enough. A commitment has been given by officials at the Department of Health to press for these guidelines to be re-visited in light of further evidence of its efficacy.
Oxford Immunotec have garnered in a very short period of time much support across both Houses, the three main parties and among officials, with encouraging answers given on the floor of the House of Lords and in answers to parliamentary questions in the Commons.
Client Profile and Issue
The Swimming Teachers' Association (STA) is a registered charity with the objective of ‘preserving human life by the teaching of swimming, lifesaving and survival techniques’. The STA receives no Government funding or support, yet has experienced incredible success over the last few years, growing a membership base of approximately 6,000. The organisation currently trains more than 40 per cent of all Swimming Teachers in the UK.
Despite being an international leader in water safety and swimming and a significant contributor to the UK’s swimming sector, the STA was effectively being excluded as a stakeholder from swimming policy development in the UK. The UK Government’s position has been that swimming is a ‘sport’ as opposed to ‘physical activity’. This means that responsibility for both the recreational and elite/competitive swimming sector has been handed to Sport England and the national governing body, The Amateur Swimming Association.
Whitehouse devised a comprehensive political contact programme for the STA to raise the charity’s profile among political decision makers. We provided in-depth briefings and regular updates to parliamentarians, officials and policy advisors on the process that the Government was following on swimming policy, highlighting the Government’s closed consultation process, heavily dominated by the organisation with specific responsibility for the elite/competitive side of the swimming and without reasonable input from the wider recreational swimming sector. We were able to highlight the shortcomings of the £142 million initiative introducing free swimming for people aged over 60 and under 16.
Whitehouse worked with the STA to develop messaging to highlight the negative effect that this limited consultation process was having on policy development and calling for wider involvement of the swimming sector.
Our overall aim was to ensure that the STA had widespread support among all stakeholders on both sides of the House, who were willing to call for their involvement as a partner in future Government swimming policy development.
A broad base of Parliamentary support for STA’s objectives was developed and drawn upon to raise key issues with the Government and highlight the need for wider stakeholder consultation in the future. With the weight of this political pressure, we were able to make the argument directly to the Government and to the governing bodies that STA’s involvement was a vital part of the swimming policy development process.
STA is now accepted as a major stakeholder in swimming policy and is used as an example of excellence by politicians. Following on from our initial activity, STA is now involved in discussions with DCMS and Sports England, as well as more widely with policy stakeholders.
Client Profile and Issue
For several years, producers of bio-diesel had benefited from a 20 pence per litre duty differential between their fuel and fossil based fuels used in most road transport vehicles, as part of an effort by Government to promote investment and growth in the vital renewable energy sector. This reflected the fact that bio-diesel, from sources such as tallow and Used Cooking Oil (UCO), was more expensive to produce, but also brought significant carbon savings.
Following a national debate and subsequent review of bio-fuels, the government took the decision to close that differential for all bio-fuels from April 2010, citing environmental factors and the £550m cost as the reasons. The impact of this was predicted to be severe; with small-scale producers being put out of business and users of bio-diesel disincentivised to choose the green option.
Working with these producers, in summer 2009 Whitehouse and our partner Agency, O’Keefe Associates, established the UK Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (UKSBA) to bring together all affected parties and to campaign on the issue on behalf of the industry. The Alliance launched to much fanfare, setting out its objectives and making clear what would happen if fiscal support for bio-diesel was removed.
Working with the producers, Whitehouse and O’Keefe produced a comprehensive Impact Assessment and international comparison paper which had the effect of reducing the £550m figure down to £75m and also making clear what had happened in other international jurisdictions when financial support had been taken away. We then began the job of disaggregating ‘sustainable’ biodiesel from other forms of the fuel that had an impact on food production or impacted on other areas of the environment, such as rainforests. Finally, we looked at some longer term solutions to ensure that the government could be reassured that the industry was moving towards self reliance and would not require permanent financial assistance.
Armed with this detailed material, Whitehouse positioned the UKSBA as a key stakeholder in the debate to HM Treasury, HMRC, the Department for Transport and the Department for Energy and Climate Change, bringing the various Departments together and drawing on supportive backbench Labour Parliamentarians to make the case. Whitehouse also ensured that both opposition parties were fully briefed on the issue, with the Liberal Democrats soon adopting the maintenance of the duty differential for sustainable bio-diesel as party policy.
In addition to this public affairs activity, Whitehouse and O’Keefe secured significant amounts of press coverage for the issue, with a number of feature articles in respected trade media publications. The UKSBA was invited to join a number of Government stakeholder groups and is still called on to comment on issues that affect the sector. The UKSBA’s future has been secured as representative voice for the industry.
Credited with having made a very persuasive case, the November 2009 Pre Budget Report confirmed that the 20 pence per litre duty differential for bio-diesel from Used Cooking Oil would be retained for two financial years up until April 2012.
Hundreds of jobs in the sector were secured, with producers and their vehicle fleet customers able to continue to make a valuable contribution to the reduction of UK greenhouse gas emissions and waste recycling. Producers continue to develop the green skills vital to the UK’s future low carbon economy.