17 Aug 2023
The current political context
The political context is changing rapidly, and as the general election approaches, MPs are keen to lend an ear to their constituents. Now’s a great time to be talking to your MP. You decide whether to vote for them, so prospective and currently elected representatives want to know what matters to you, and how you think they’re doing.
The major political parties are taking heed of our demands, but not going far enough. The Labour Party had previously put housing retrofit centre stage of its agenda, promising to invest £6 billion a year on a home insulation programme over a decade. However, that has now been downgraded to just £13.2 billion over 5 years. Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have also talked of the need for more insulation in the context of high energy costs, although they’ve only pledged an additional £2 billion a year between 2025 and 2028. Renewable energy is also now recognised as green, clean and cheap by all parties.
But it’s still not enough. To meet the challenges of the energy and climate crises, we need MPs across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to pledge their support for the United for Warm Homes campaign. That’s why it’s so important to meet with your MP ahead of the general election.
Securing a meeting
It's best to work with others to secure a meeting with your MP. At a local level, this could include council officers, your MP’s constituency office staff, other community groups, organisations and businesses.
Why? Because the more diverse and representative the people and groups you collaborate with are, the more likely your MP will be to listen, and the more successful you’ll be.
Find out about your MP and how to contact them using the UK parliament's directory. You can see how they've voted on various issues in the "Voting record" tab.
Don't worry if you don't manage to secure a meeting with your MP right away. These things can take time. If you don't get a response from your MP, then have a think about other ways you can catch their attention, such as through social media. You could also think about which community groups your MP may be most likely to listen to, such as tenants associations or local businesses, and build up relationships with them first.
Preparing for the meeting
Do your research
Learn more about your MP and consider how best to lobby them:
- Where do they stand on our campaign’s issues?
- What can they do?
- What are they realistically going to do?
- What might stop them?
- Can other people or groups help persuade them?
Preparing as a group
MPs will prioritise talking to and meeting people from their constituency, so make sure a group of you go along to the meeting. You’ll need at least one person from the area they represent. They’re also more likely to listen if you demonstrate widespread support, which is why strength in numbers, both from your own group and local partners, is so important.
- Encourage as many people as possible to attend.
- Get together beforehand and agree on who’ll say what.
- Decide who’ll play specific roles. It can be helpful to agree on a meeting chair who’ll lead the discussion and keep things on time. They might step in if the conversation goes off-topic or gets a little too heated. It’s also a good idea to have one person making notes on the conversation.
- Show a united front, as disagreeing with each other can take away from the message.
- Ensure your attendees are as representative as possible. Think about whether you’re representing the diversity of your local community in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and religion. Remember, even if not everyone can make the meeting, lots of people can get involved via social media, by tweeting or emailing the MP while others are in the meeting.
Top preparation tips
- Be clear on what you want to get out of the meeting. Our main goal is to get MPs to sign the United for Warm Homes pledge. We can then hold them to account on their commitments after the general election. Find out more about the pledge, including what it says and how MPs can sign. If your MP has already signed the pledge, you might want to ask them to do something else, such as making a public statement in support of the campaign or attending an event. See more ideas on how MPs can show support.
- Focus on up to 3 key messages, as meetings are normally quite short. Use local facts and statistics to back up your points. These can be found on our energy crisis hotspots map. Just put in your postcode to find data about the energy crisis for your constituency.
- Write a script in advance. See “What to say in the meeting” below for ideas on what to cover.
- Don’t worry about not being an expert. You have a right to get your points across. Plus, you’ll often know far more than the person you're lobbying.
What to say in the meeting
Here’s a suggested structure to follow in your meeting.
- Introduce yourselves. Say who you are and where you live.
- Explain the problem and your concerns. Educate them about the issue. Talk about fuel poverty in the area, and the impacts of the wider cost-of-living crisis.
- Share personal stories about the need for warm homes.
- Outline the solutions and your asks. Be specific and talk about the 3 campaign demands. Give them a reason to act. What’s in it for them if they do? What will the impacts be if they don’t? Take along any documents you'd like to hand over about the campaign asks and local data, such as our MP briefing for your constituency.
- Allow some time for discussion. But keep to your agenda, don’t let them talk around the issue while saying nothing.
- Seek commitments from your MP. Ask your MP to show their support by signing the United for Warm Homes pledge. If they sign the pledge, you might also want to ask them to share their support on social media, or even in parliament. See our guide on winning political support for more ideas.
- Ask for a photo. Take a picture with your group and your MP if everyone is happy to. Order posters and placards to hold up in the photo. This always makes for a nice campaign image, and you can use it on social media or even on campaign materials. If your MP signs the pledge, make sure to get a photo of them with our pledge placard.
- Agree next steps. Take brief notes on the meeting, and keep a record of anything your MP agrees to.
Remember, the way you present your message is almost as important as what you’re saying. Think about your body language and your tone. Be confident, but stay calm and respectful.
What to do after the meeting
- Get in touch to thank your MP for seeing you.
- If there were any next steps agreed, such as the MP officially signing the pledge online, write an email to remind everyone what they were.
- Get in touch with the local newspaper, TV or radio station to see if they're interested in this as a story. If your MP has agreed or refused to do something, this may be a good hook. See our guide on getting in the local media.
- Post about the meeting on social media. Include your photo if you took one and use the campaign hashtag #UnitedforWarmHomes.
- Keep up the conversation. Let your MP know the latest developments in your campaign and invite them to keep showing their support.
- If you don't get the response you want, be persistent. Encourage others to organise face-to-face meetings as well.
To find out more about how and why we want to influence MPs and general election candidates, read our political strategy.