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Preparing for the General Election

Why SFHA is working with the Electoral Commission.

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By Tom Ockendon, SFHA External Affairs Co-ordinator

It might not be immediately obvious as to why SFHA would be partnering with the Electoral Commission and why we think it would be a good use of your time to attend a webinar with them – so let me explain. 

With a UK general election on the horizon, we think it is an important piece of work for two reasons. Ultimately when it comes to engaging with politicians, two of the most important factors are building good relationships and acknowledging the fact they are accountable to voters. This is what we do in our day-to-day public affairs work and want to bring into the election. 

First of all though, it will probably help to give some background on what the Electoral Commission is and what they do. The Commission is the independent body which oversees UK elections, regulates political finance in the UK, and works to promote public confidence in the democratic process.  

To share a few examples, their responsibilities cover making sure people know the deadline for registering to vote, monitoring donations to political parties, and sharing data on elections like how many people turned out to vote. 

Back to why we think it is important though. Ahead of the election, SFHA will be using our collective voice to advocate for our members, your tenants, and to promote the value of social housing. But for organisations who want to do any campaigning work of their own there are important electoral rules that you need to be aware of. 

We would encourage all our members to do their own campaigning work around the election - but know that it simply might not be a priority with so much else going on. Because of this, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to engage with local candidates to build relationships early and show them the value that you bring to your community.  

At the same time, we believe it’s vital we do all we can to support and encourage social tenants to register to vote and raise awareness of the new voter ID laws in place for the General Election. Social renters are one of the groups of people who are least likely to be registered to vote, have an existing form of photo ID which can be used to vote, and to turnout to vote on polling day. 

However, we’ve done some analysis at SFHA which found that in at least 40 out of the 59 (68%) constituencies used in the 2019 election, the number of socially rented households is more than the current majority that the sitting MP has. It’s hard to be fully accurate on these numbers, but we see huge potential here to make political parties take more notice of the issues important to social renters and hopefully social housing more generally. 

On both pieces of work – campaigning on the election and encouraging tenants to participate – the Electoral Commission will inform us of the rules that need to be followed, key information and resources which you can make use of and answer any other questions you might have. This is a useful opportunity to use the Commission’s expertise and to gain reassurance of how you can engage with the election with the stamp of non-party political approval. 

At the webinar we will also be able to share some of the resources that SFHA can provide to our members to make participating in the election easier and to boost participation amongst tenants. We hope to see you there. 

Webinar: Preparing for a General Election

24 April, 14:00 - 15:00
Click here to book

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