Tony Medawar is Senior Associate Director of Onyx. He has more than twenty five years’ experience of working in and with government. His posts include Director of Public Bodies Policy at the Cabinet Office, Deputy Head of State Aid Policy Team at EU and Director of Strategy at London Development Agency.
Government can make or break your business. It’s happened before. It’ll happen again. It’s avoidable.
Changes in regulatory requirements can increase costs but they can cut them too. And although business plans can be disrupted, policy announcements and changes in the law can also create new opportunities and drive customers to seek what you are already offering. For all of these reasons keep a sharp focus on the three Is.
- Information You need to know how policy and regulation affect your business and your plans for growth? But what are the risks? What’s the worst that could happen? And what’s the best?
- Intelligence What’s in play? What’s the timeline for change? What proposals for change are under active consideration? Who is pushing for them and why? What would the proposals mean for your business? And what it would mean if they were shelved?
- Influence Who are the decision-makers and opinion-formers? Who advises them?
When, where and how can you move to minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities. What’s the best that could happen?
Onyx can help.
You need to make the evidence base work for you by understanding what policymakers are looking at, guiding them to information and trends they may not be considering, and catalysing new thinking.
You need to shape the environment by forming your arguments into a set of key messages, stimulating debate and finding allies and ambassadors to champion your concerns and challenge counter-arguments.
Above all, you need to engage the relevant people within Whitehall and beyond by speaking to them in voices that they will recognise about the things that matter to them and at the time when your arguments and thinking are most likely to get traction.
Onyx can help.
Policy and legislation start with problems and the main challenge to policy-makers is to identify options so that ministers can weigh the benefits, if the solution works, against the negative consequences.
Central to this process is impact assessment and assessments of this kind are published alongside proposals for change in line with the Government’s consultation principles. But if you are trying to achieve a particular change, it is too late to wait until the Government has published its own proposals. While proposals can change or be withdrawn after they have been announced, this is rare. More often, proposals are adjusted or their implementation re-phased but broadly they remain the same.
Waiting is not an option.
It is critical to anticipate action in Whitehall and understand where demands for change might come from, knowing what is happening in your sector and any public or parliamentary concern that is building, and identifying how those concerns could be rebuffed or addressed before others do so that you can take the action set out above. It is critical to build and sustain strong relationships with key people, so that your business is seen as part of the solution not part of the problem and you have an inside edge when it comes to debating possible changes. And it is critical to be part of the dialogue about what works well and where concerns are building.