Adult Social Care

Is the Government’s latest white paper on adult social care reform enough to help the sector?

After much anticipation, the Government quietly published its adult social care proposals last week. The Putting the Heart into Care White Paper included headline announcements such as £300m to develop the housing for the elderly sector as well as details on the Government’s £500m investment in the social care workforce.

The reforms promise to create a care system that will give people a greater choice and independence and give the people who work in social care better routes for career progression. Introducing the reforms to Parliament, Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said: ‘Today’s White Paper is an important step on our journey to giving more people the dignified care that we want for our loved ones, setting out important changes that will last for generations and stand the test of time.’

Any indication of reform to the sector is welcome, given the intense capacity and workforce issues seen in recent years. However, many critics have accused the Government of not going far enough.

On the opposition bench, Labour’s Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall argued that the White Paper has ‘utterly failed to deal with the immediate pressures facing social care, as we head into one of the most difficult winters on record’. She also continued Labour’s attack on the social care cap which will cap personal care costs at £86,000. Labour voted against the measure as they argue it will still leave people with unaffordable care costs.

The Liberal Democrat’s Daisy Cooper said that the measures laid out are ‘incredibly thin’ and will not address the problems with fragmentation and integration between the NHS and care. Meanwhile, Philippa Whitford has called for the Government to follow the lead of the Scottish National Party in Scotland and introduce a national care service.

Much of the criticism of these reforms is focussed on the lack of additional funding which the sector will see. This is despite the Health and Care Levy, announced in September, which will raise £36.5bn for the health and social care sector over the next three years. As most of this money will initially be spent on addressing the waiting lists in the NHS, the proportion to be spent on social care is only £5.4bn. Moreover, with £3.6bn of this funding being spent on the social care cap, the remaining funding for investment in the sector is just £1.7bn over the next three years.

The Health and Social Care Committee Chair Jeremy Hunt argued that the funding set out in the White Paper doesn’t even give enough funding for local authorities to carry out their core responsibilities, let alone give them enough to deal with demographic change and national living wage increases. He highlighted that the Committee had called for a £7 billion-a-year increase by the end of the Parliament to address the current challenges. This was echoed by the Health Foundation which has argued that the reforms will ‘feel like hollow words without the money to deliver it’. The Think Tank has suggested that additional funding of around £7.6 billion in 2022/23 is needed, rising to £9 billion in 2024/25.

There are some positive notes for what is included in the reforms – ADASS have said that although the sector needs more funding, the White Paper is a good foundation for reform with ‘strong values and principles’. Likewise, Skills for Care have welcomed the workforce components of the reforms, including the investment in professional development processes. ARCO has also praised the White Paper’s attention on developing the specialist housing sector.

Overall, although the White Paper doesn’t contain anything particularly contentious for the sector, there are concerns that it does not go far enough to address the long-term challenges, particularly on funding and within the workforce. With this, the sector can expect more proposals in the coming months. A standalone strategy for people with dementia and their carers is planned, as well as an Integration White Paper which will set out measures to improve the join up of care in local areas.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

How to get inclusion right in PR and comms

‘How do we get this right?’ – accessmatters with The Unmistakables’ Asad Dhunna

‘How do you introduce yourself? Listing jobs and experiences, what that does is put a mask up over who I am as a person’ – for our latest accessmatters session, The Unmistakables’ Asad Dhunna talked how ‘not fitting in’ was a spark for him create space where everyone can.

‘Throughout my life, I recognised I didn’t really fit in. Right from Primary School. At home, my family pronounces my name in the Hindi way, so who I am in the world and who I am at home is different, automatically.

‘I did languages and people were like, “Shouldn’t you be doing Sciences or Maths?” It’s what people expected me to do. When I got to university, I had people say “Obviously, you’ll do accountancy” or “You’ll do law – something that’s expected of someone like you”. I realised by that they meant “Asian” or “of Indian heritage”.

‘That feeling of not fitting in carried on – I lived in Germany for a year and people would ask “Where are you really from?”

‘I went to work in marketing and comms. I had a push and pull – push of family saying “Really, you could get a job in a bank”. And I was thinking, do people like me belong in this industry; should I be here? In the early days of my career, I was trying to use “not fitting in” as a value rather than as a bad thing. Then I started to realise, as I became a leader, that people didn’t look like me, or have my experiences.’

The Past
The way the communications and media industries have tried to welcome people from communities and backgrounds other than the predominantly white, middle-class, university-educated and heterosexual mould has often been very well-intentioned, but not quite right.

‘Back then, people were starting to use “ERG”, “LGBTQ”, “BAME” and set up networks. I had this funny moment of people asking if I wanted to be part of the BAME or LGBTQ network – I thought I didn’t quite fit into either of these. And then someone told me about the word “intersectional”…

‘How do we make the industry more inclusive? People that look like me are more likely to set up a shop on the high street than set up an agency – I set up The Unmistakables.’

The Present
The world has had to change since the pandemic, forcing conversations that have previously been avoided or given short-shrift – businesses are having to do the work.

‘Having conversations with clients now: “how do we get this right?” – inclusivity is treated really differently today. The pandemic and George Floyd’s murder made us all sit up and engage with the conversation. Partly because we were stuck at home and we were all going through the same experience. The brutality towards marginalised communities and the systems in place made us confront that privilege is in how we live. Society has been structured in ways that doesn’t benefit all.

‘We realised the only way we could help with inclusion was an “inside-out” approach – campaigns backed by more inclusive cultures. Marketing and comms is what we see in the world, how we are communicated to and how culture evolves. And within businesses, how do employees feel with their inclusion levels? You might be really good at your job, but you might not feel included. We spent a lot of time trying to work that out.’

The Future
The Diversity & Confusion Report, released by The Unmistakables this year, found that people are more comfortable taking about death than topics like race and sexuality at work.

‘Language is always changing – people don’t know how to talk about this. 40% of professionals in our industry are afraid to use the word “black”. Why? There are political nuances with that term, so some people don’t feel comfortable using it. People are also afraid to use the terms “gay” or “disabled”. One-in-six fear that they could lose their job if they use the wrong terms. If you’re in marketing and comms, fear is the biggest thing that stops creativity.

‘We also found that people would rather use the wrong term than say what they mean. We hear “diversity” a lot – our question to those we work with is, what do you mean by “diverse”? Is it background and class, sexuality, race? I always like to encourage people to see what’s inside of that word.

‘We’re at a time where we’re rethinking a lot and we don’t want to go backwards. There’s a curve of change, and not everyone is going to be on top tomorrow, but we’ve got an opportunity to think how we want to do things differently.’

For more from our accessmatters sessions with The Unmistakables’ Asad Dhunna, read his five tips for creating inclusive campaigns.

Find influencers and media professionals to work with on your upcoming campaigns with the Vuelio Media Database and keep track of your stakeholder relationships with our Stakeholder Management services – find out more here.

Cabinet Office

What the Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle means for the UK political environment

Lucy Grove and Charlie Campion from the Vuelio political team take a look at the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer surprised us with a reshuffle this week, beginning with the resignation of Cat Smith, who had continued to serve as Shadow Secretary of State for Young People and Democracy under Starmer’s leadership, following her appointed to the role by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Nick Thomas-Symonds has been removed as the Shadow Home Secretary having served in the role since Starmer’s victory in the Labour Leadership Election last year, but having come under some criticism for his performance in the role, has been moved to serve as Shadow International Trade Secretary. He has been replaced in Shadow Home Secretary by Yvette Cooper, who has returned to the role having previously served in the same position under the leadership of Ed Miliband. The former Chair of Home Affairs Select Committee has received some acclaim for her scrutiny of Government during her stint in the role including an exchange with current Home Secretary Priti Patel on the lack of up-to-date figures related to COVID-19 and border issues in July 2020. The MP for the marginal seat of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford will arguably add some experience to Keir Starmer’s senior leadership team, where few have had the opportunity to serve in government.

Lisa Nandy will see her portfolio switch from meetings with foreign dignitaries to a role more focused on local communities and government. The co-Founder of the Centre for Towns and active campaigner for towns and communities will be a popular choice with social media users who turned her passion for towns into an internet sensation during the 2020 Labour Leadership Election. The MP for Wigan has long taken an interest in local government repeating her calls for a ‘functioning bus network’ and will shadow Michael Gove as the government rolls out its Levelling Up agenda.

Ed Miliband retained a quarter of his former post, moving from the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the newly-created position of Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero. Although not having a direct opposite in Government makes it unclear who Miliband will be shadowing, the creation of this role indicates a commitment from the party to one of the most central issues plaguing Government, particularly after a last-minute compromise at the COP26 summit. The appointment also acknowledges Miliband’s passion for the topic, demonstrated in his challenge to Boris Johnson over COP26 ambitions.

There was movement in store for Wes Streeting and Jonathan Reynolds, who took on the roles of Shadow Secretary for Health and Social Care and Shadow Secretary for Business and Industrial Strategy respectively. Streeting, the Member of Parliament for Ilford North, has been an MP since 2015 having taken the London seat from the Conservatives in an upset win, he then went on to serve as Shadow Secretary for Child Poverty. Meanwhile, Reynolds is moved to the Business and Industrial Strategy role having previously served as the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

The reshuffle also saw Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens move from her previous role shadowing Nadine Dorries, the recently appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to return to the Welsh portfolio. She replaces Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli, who has now taken a step back from frontbench politics.

Former Shadow Secretary for Justice David Lammy has been promoted to the Foreign Affairs brief opposite Liz Truss. Albeit a slightly surprising appointment, former barrister Lammy is a powerful speaker and will be well placed to hold the Government to account on a challenging foreign policy landscape. Following his appointment, he said he looks ‘forward to setting out Labour’s vision for a values-led foreign policy’. Working alongside him will be Shadow Cabinet Minister Preet Gill, who has been in post since September 2020.

Some quarters were perhaps left surprised as Dr Rosena Allin-Khan wasn’t moved to a more senior role in the Shadow Cabinet, especially with Jonathan Ashworth vacating the Health portfolio. The MP for Tooting in South London has been touted as a rising star in the Labour Party and while she saw no promotion in this reshuffle she will continue to attend the Shadow Cabinet in her role as Shadow Minister for Mental Health.

Peter Kyle, the MP for Hove, joins the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He was previously Schools Minister and replaces Louise Haigh. Another member of the 2015 intake, like Wes Streeting, he upset the Conservatives turning a 4% Conservative majority into a 3% Labour Majority before winning a 30%+ majority in the 2017 and 2019 General Elections.

There were rumours that Wes Streeting was on the cards to take over Shadow Secretary of State for Education from Kate Green after his appointment as Shadow Schools Minister in 2020 and his long history of being an active voice in education. Phillipson, the former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is the first MP representing a northeast constituency to be Shadow Education Secretary since Pat Glass, who held the role for two days in 2016 and has spoken about the poor outcomes for young people in her area. Conclusions could be drawn here about the parallels between this and the Government’s ambitions for levelling-up education.
Jim McMahon has become the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, moving from the Transport portfolio. He has been the MP for Oldham West and Royton since 2015 having previously served as the Leader of the Council.

The reshuffle also sees Emily Thornberry stay in the Shadow Cabinet, but she returns to her role of Shadow Attorney General, despite rumours of her ending up in home affairs. She brings expertise from her substantial work in the legal profession before entering Parliament as a barrister to the role.

Steve Reed moves from Shadow Secretary for Communities and Local Government to justice. His first shadow ministerial role was in home affairs from 2013-2015, providing some background to the role, as well as having been commended for his work establishing the Co-operative Councils Network, which sought to transform local public services prior to his election. Although he hasn’t worked as a lawyer, like his predecessor, Reeds’ background publishing includes spells with the Law Society. Following his appointment, he reminded Twitter of his work introducing Seni’s Law to secure justice for mental patients.

Lucy Powell moves from Shadow Secretary of State for Housing to her new role shadowing Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. She takes on this role following a brief period as Labour’s front-bench housing spokesperson, which some argued lacked a strong campaign against the Government’s actions over the leasehold scandal. Powell has relevant experience for the appointment, introducing the Online Forum’s Bill way back in 2018, arguing unregulated ‘echo chambers’ on social media are allowing the online spread of abuse, including racist conspiracy theories, revenge porn and illegal trading. Despite achieving cross-party support, the Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament.

Jonathan Ashworth has held previous shadow cabinet positions for the Department of Health and Social Care, for which he served longer than any other Labour politician, as well as the cabinet office. He will be shadowing incumbent Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey, who welcomed Ashworth to his new job, stating that the two have a ‘shared mission to improve the quality of life for millions of people in this country’.

Also noteworthy, Angela Rayner kept her former roles in the November 2021, but nonetheless hit the headlines as the reshuffle coincided with her long-planned speech on Labour’s plans to clean up politics at the Institute for Government. Papers reported that the deputy leader appeared blind-sided, while sources close to the Labour leader said Ms Rayner was told a reshuffle would be taking place.

Louise Haigh was moved from being Northern Ireland’s Shadow Secretary of State a week after being criticised by some for suggesting the UK Government should remain neutral in the event of a border poll. Upon her appointment she said she was looking forward to ‘getting stuck into the Tories on behalf of communities who have been sold out by their transport betrayal’.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Green world

Baroness Bennett: The future of the world has to be Green

Green peer Baroness Natalie Bennett of Manor Castle writes about the challenges of getting the Government to agree to environmental standards and the kind of people therefore needed in opposition.

There are, it appears, two Government trade policies. One is a cutting-edge, environmentally revolutionary plan to be ‘world-leading in standards of environmental health, slashed carbon emissions, best-in-game workers’ rights and respectful of human rights. The other is ‘Singapore-upon-Thames’ Elizabethan ‘buccaneering’, polluting, rights-abusing goods flowing through wide-open freeports where the rules are abolished and neoliberal capitalism rules raw in tooth and claw.

It is a function of our first-past-the-post politics that profoundly incompatible coalitions, such as that between the Thatcherite ideologues of the South East and the fed-up impoverished, ignored ‘Red Wall’ seats, get into Government and produce such policy paradoxes.

The issue of making the UK a democracy is something I’m always working on, but in the meantime I’m also doing what I can on trade to push us in the direction of a policy that acknowledges that there is no exchange of goods and services on a dead planet, and ours is right at, or beyond, its physical limits.

One tactic is to try to get the Government to commit, as the House of Lords has collectively been trying to do for years through the Trade Bill, the Agriculture Bill, the Internal Market Bill and many others, to put ‘on the face of the Bill’, as we say, commitments to decent standards. Even the National Farmers’ Union has, however, been unable to get Tory MPs from the rural seats to stand with us in what we call the ‘Other Place’.

Second-best, but still worth trying, is to get verbal commitments, which is why this week I asked the Government if it planned to sign up to the New Zealand-led Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS), a still fairly modest but important initiative, operating within the World Trade Organisation framework, that aims to end fossil fuel subsidies (in the UK now at about £10 billion a year, far above what is being put into renewables), agree tariff-free trade in environmental goods and services, and agree a global eco-labelling scheme.

You can see the debate here, or read the debate for yourself in Hansard. If you watch the video through once, you might be positively surprised. It is clear, as the Talk Radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer grumbled to me last year, that everyone is now talking Green.

But were you to sit down to analyse every sentence, check the meaning of each clearly very careful assemblage of works, you have to conclude that when it comes to the Government’s commitment to, or even interest in, ACCTS, as Politico’s morning trade newsletter put it: ‘close but no cigar’. It concluded: ‘Trade minister Lord Gerry Grimstone, who will also lead on the Government’s new Office for Investment, sidestepped.’

Which is where we come back to the politics. The Government won the last election with a strategy of mobilising the disaffected, uniting and energising the angry and the self-interested, with a populist, Trumpian, evidence-free repeating of simple slogans. It is clear which policy approach fits with that.

The politics seems unlikely to change any time soon. Which indicates that we need to build new coalitions in opposition, of the sensible, the evidence-driven, the practical people – who know that the future of the world has to be Green.

People who know that businesses that get ahead of the curve for the transformatory circular economy, one-planet living, model, will flourish. That communities built around strong local economies with food and good production for local consumption, promoting biodiversity and wildlife (just look at Paris), providing security for all (hello Universal Basic Income) will be attractive to the educated and capable in a world in which human resources are in increasingly short supply with plummeting birth rates.

Buccaneering belongs in the time of Queen Elizabeth (the First that is). As we’ve seen with its management of Covid-19, it’s New Zealand that’s the truly leading world nation, with a very different model of politics, society and trade. But it is equally clear this Government has no intention of following its lead.

This blog post is part of a cross-party series on Vuelio’s political blogPoint of Order which publishes insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.


2021 Will Be Good For Public Affairs

Dr Stuart Thomson, head of public affairs at law firm BDB Pitmans and winner of the Current Affairs category at the Online Influence Awards 2020, explains why public affairs is essential in 2021, and offers advice to maximise success.

The management of political risk became mainstream in 2020 as organisations saw the value of engagement. There is every indication that 2021 will be good for public affairs but only if we continue to deliver value.

The early months

As we have already seen, the early months of 2021 will be dominated by continued lockdown and the Covid vaccinations rollout. But once that is over, we can then expect the Government to engage in some serious policy development and communications activity. There will be the mother of all relaunches as it attempts to build on any goodwill created by the vaccine rollout and starts to put forward an agenda to try to win the next General Election.

There are a huge set of elections coming up in May, should Covid allow that timing. But even if the timescale slips slightly, the Government won’t want to delay them too long; there is every indication that these elections, across England, Scotland and Wales, will reflect the Government’s handling of Covid.  Anyone expecting a major Cabinet reshuffle would do well to look for one after these elections. If the Government doesn’t do well then this would be a good time for a ‘refresh’ of the team.

Red wall challenges

Many of the challenges that the Prime Minister faces will come from his own side. His MPs seem quite upset to the approach adopted to lockdown and the apparent reliance on the power of the ‘U turn’ to solve bad headlines.

The replacement of Dominic Cummings gave some hope that a new approach was on its way and that may still be the case. It appears though that Covid continues to stop all else in its tracks even a new approach to working with colleagues.

There is no doubt that the new red wall Conservative MPs will need to show that the Government has made progress by the time of the next election. Certainly, Brexit has been delivered in a way that most supporters find acceptable but that will not be enough.

Implications for public affairs

What should we in public affairs do to ensure that we continue to deliver value during the course of these and other events during 2021?

  • Be ahead of events – many of them we know about in advance, such as the elections but also the Budget, a more detailed Spending Review etc, but also consider the more unexpected as well. Do such events offer opportunities for engagement? What happens with their outcomes? Do you need to react?
  • Think policy – the Government’s need for a relaunch and the emphasis on pre-General Election delivery means that they will need to come up with a constant stream of ideas and make others, such as those promised for devolution, work. That needs constructive engagement and an emphasis on supplying solutions.
  • Think projects – particularly across the Red Wall, building things will be important. Something that means the local MP can cut a ribbon and the silver plaque outside commemorating the opening can have a Union flag as well. Can you help deliver such schemes or, at least, support them?
  • The environment – with the COP 26 conference coming up at the end of 2021, the Government will have a particular emphasis on climate change. Is there anything you can do to help deliver on the environmental challenge?

Even as Covid starts to fade as a top line issue, the Government’s political challenges remain. Good public affairs engagement is increasingly about political risk management and if 2020 taught us anything it is that dialogue with Government is essential. That will continue to be the case in 2021 and beyond.

Vuelio political reports

Vuelio launches Political Reports

Vuelio has launched Political Reports, a new tool for public affairs and communications practitioners to analyse the increasingly complex political landscape by delivering stakeholder insight across a range of channels, from Twitter to Parliament itself.

Political Reports was developed in 2020 to meet the changing political landscape and needs of Vuelio’s clients. Here, the head of political services and a senior product manager walk us through the innovation journey and explain why these reports will be a gamechanger for public affairs and communications in 2021.

Kelly Scott, head of political services
Political discourse has been unquestionably growing as the rise of social channels and the digitisation of Parliament and Government have offered groups, organisations and individuals an opportunity to engage and inform policymakers without the barriers that previously hindered access.

This is widely considered to be a positive because the more policymaking is informed with evidence and data from a broad range of stakeholders, the more it should meet the needs of the public.

However, the by-product of an open and digitalised structure is that it is increasingly time intensive to track issues of interest, not just because there is a bursting legislative agenda, but also because key political actors debate issues across channels, from the floor of Parliament to the Twittersphere. Following the conversation and knowing where to engage, myth bust and campaign is no longer a simple and economical task for communicators.

In 2020, this challenge hit a tipping point for Vuelio’s Political Services clients. With a new Government agenda following the General Election, Brexit and the pace of policy change caused by the pandemic, staying on the front foot and ensuring the issues, organisations or people you represent are recognised was becoming an overwhelming and at times impossible task.

Vuelio Political Reports

Through structured discussion, we identified the problem was that the workflow for analysing the whole environment was highly manual. Communicators use their own specialised expertise to identify the right stakeholders to engage with, check the temperature of the landscape or analyse momentum. The heavy lifting they had to do to get to this point was extensive, as was the time spent on interpretation to share with internal decisionmakers.

We shared this problem and key data on the external political environment in which our clients operate with the Vuelio product team, challenging them to develop a technology-based innovation that could improve the current workflow. It needed to be easy to use, not restrictive in how it could be applied to the complex political environment, and it had to acknowledge the fast-paced and unpredictable nature of politics and the different objectives our clients have when looking at issues or specific political stakeholders.

Chris Axe, senior product manager
When assessing the market of available tools for analysing political activity it was clear there was a real lack of options when it came to easily visualising the key trends and patterns in this information. Given the ever-increasing digitisation of political content and the number of sources available, it is vital that any political analysis tool has these capabilities to meet the evolving needs of the sector.

Given our position as a leader in the world of PR analytics, we were well placed to construct the best ways to surface this information. By working directly with our clients in the political sector and assessing the ways that they used our political monitoring functions, we established the most important data elements that we would need to focus on.

Additionally, it was clear from feedback that we needed to make it as easy as possible to dynamically change the sets of data under interrogation for maximum flexibility. We shared an initial set of visualisation tools with our clients for feedback and enhancement prior to launch.

We’re now pleased to make this solution available to all of our political services clients, both new and existing. It includes a selection of charts that allow you to see the published activity and contributions of individual stakeholders or institutions in near real time. We allow you to export this data in multiple formats, segment it with a variety of filters and choose whether you want to drill into the detail or look at high level trends.

We will continue to develop our offering and work alongside the sector to solve new challenges as the external environment evolves.

Do you need Political Reports? Save hours of time, expand your stakeholder map and track the issues that matter to you – book a demo.

BlAME game

The BlAME game

Charlotte KingThis is a guest post from Charlotte King, fellowships and communications coordinator at the Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Leicester. Her work here is her own views and does not reflect those of the university.

The pandemic has profoundly impacted the ways in which we think about health and risk within and beyond our immediate community. While common anxieties surround the frank fear of death and wellbeing, nothing has exposed societal inequalities quite like COVID-19. 

Our information environment has engaged with the somewhat misleading meta-narrative that the virus is an equaliser, yet ‘we’re all in this together’ is a more problematic phrase for those experiencing the brunt of the pandemic than those often responsible for producing the messaging. If our understanding of society is largely shaped by information flow through the platforms we access, there is an inherent danger that our perception is tainted by bias frames toward particular socio-political issues. As the city of Leicester experienced the first prolonged lockdown in the UK, the narrative of the pandemic soon became discriminatory against BAME communities, many of whom already experience systematic racism.

Many have noted the messaging that BAME communities are at increased risk, yet few messages illustrate why this is the case. The lack of clarity has led to a stigma surrounding BAME communities which has seen an exacerbation from anti-Asian sentiment to the targeting of BAME communities more widely. While it is clear that those who have continued employment in the workplace are more exposed to the virus than those sheltering, what is less clear is how our personal environments disproportionately impact the agency one has over their health and risk-taking during this time.

Multi-dimensional factors surrounding underlying health conditions, access to healthcare and health communications, class, employment, diet and the status of accommodation all reveal disproportionate ways in which people are able to adhere to health guidance. While these are far too expansive to discuss here, it is important to note that the issue of inequality and public health is sensitive, and far too complex to understand through hegemonic stories surrounding it.

Here I will unpack just a few issues on disproportionate vulnerability. Economic stability has weighed on the minds of many in the UK, and those who are pressured into working during the pandemic are undoubtedly exposed to an extent others are not. Adding salt to the wound, there is a disproportionate effect on BAME communities through the lens of economic stability. This divide is further emphasised by those who lack the luxury of social distancing, contributing towards the extent to which one can safely operate during the pandemic. This reveals a profound disparity between the rich and poor, and while many experience mental health concerns during lockdown, it is evident that it is not the same for everybody.

Alongside circumstantial differences, language also plays a significant role for migrant communities. Leicester City Council distributed health guidance in a variety of the main languages spoken within the city, yet this is an anomaly to otherwise English-dominant communications. The danger surrounding this is the further stigmatisation of migrants on the basis of immersion and integration, when discussion of public health should remain an issue of health as a human right; regardless of language, race, gender or nationality. As researchers and scientists are working hard to demystify the issue of ethnicity, class and health, it must be brought to the forefront of public opinion, through the narrative of public health, that the alienation of certain groups within a profoundly multicultural nation is causing a rift among UK citizens.

Generally, when it comes to public health, we have cultivated a culture of trust between ourselves and the top-down news stories. Yet the human aspect behind the BAME story is omitted from headlines, unmasking the frailty of our society. As we move our news sources online, algorithms cause us to become, often unknowingly, immersed into dominant stories and misinformation, undermining a complete narrative to be shaped when it comes to public health. Herein lies the paradox of pluralistic societies; we live side by side with differential signifiers of our times, with little common understanding of our wider cultural makeup.

We have a societal responsibility to incorporate BAME stories into our national health narrative, or the profound effects of alienation and systemic discrimination of BAME communities will be exacerbated to an unknown end. A bottom-up approach would demand a shift towards a more divisive social understanding, and would offer a platform for the all too often silenced voices to be heard, rather than blanketed through the stories we currently receive.

For the pandemic, a fundamentally human story, we are missing the perspective of so many, causing us to drift further away from having the complete picture of how our society is coping with the current context.

Engagement with healt comms through COVID 19

Engagement with health comms through COVID-19

Engagement with healt comms through COVID 19


Throughout COVID-19, every aspect of public health has had to respond and adjust to new responsibilities. Communicators have been thrust into the spotlight, absorbing extraordinary pressure to manage a huge variety of stakeholders while navigating a ceaselessly changing media, policy and care landscape. 

In Engagement with health comms through COVID-19, we analyse how audiences responded to official NHS feeds on social media, how conversations shifted during different stages of the pandemic and the media’s reaction to the developing crisis.

Information and data is presented from Vuelio, ResponseSource and Pulsar to give a complete view of the excellent work carried out by health communicators in a tumultuous 2020.

We also picked up five lessons that you can apply for planning healthcare communications moving forward. We hope you find it useful.

Lockdown stakeholder

How to adapt your stakeholder engagement during lockdown

For most external relations teams, managing relationships with a variety of audiences and stakeholders is at the very core of what they do. Systematic and regular touch points are how relationships are tested, along with keeping a close eye on stakeholder activities through media and political channels. Intelligence and engagement help inform stakeholder mapping, which is a vital activity for measuring reputation and progress against strategic or campaign objectives.

Lockdown has, however, changed the game. In the past 12 weeks, engaging with stakeholders in person is no longer an option, which Vuelio research revealed was MPs’ preferred method of engagement. Furthermore, with COVID-19 now dominating the narrative, the progress of building stakeholder voices on our behalf is likely to have slowed or even paused indefinitely.

So, how do we keep hold of our relationships and build new momentum behind our engagement goals? The answer is to firstly accept where we are. This is a new normal which means looking at our stakeholder map and relationships through a new lens and resetting the foundations:

Influence/interest matrix
Return to the basics of stakeholder mapping: are your stakeholders still interested in your priorities and can they influence them in a positive or negative way? Can you see this in their activities since lockdown began or do you need to accept their score or place in your map has changed?

Broaden your channels  
If your stakeholder map was not informed by social channels before, it definitely should now. Many key stakeholders are connecting with their audiences through social channels – this could be you. At the very least, social activity can help inform the interest axis on your matrix right now, and can provide true insight into thinking. Our sister company Pulsar has been mapping the new normal using online conversation, which clearly shows the power of social.

Build digital relationships
If our usual ‘get to know you’ conversations were based on activities your stakeholders have done or plan to do physically, you now need to find a replacement. Discussing great social posts your stakeholder may have created or even passing on content sources and data you have found useful at this time, can help build the relationship. Being a beacon of knowledge in the new normal will help entrench your value with the stakeholder.

Consult on communication preferences
Reaching out to your key stakeholders and asking how you can connect with them seems obvious. However, it may not be something your stakeholder has thought of. What different options can you offer: a regular newsletter? A regular informal virtual catch up or a structured online briefing? Do you understand how their workflow operates (does a member of their staff process incoming digital communications, for example). And are you aware of preferred timings (Do they like to catch up on reading on Friday mornings so you know when to follow up?).

And finally…

Success IS possible
It doesn’t have to be that the old plan has failed or is paused indefinitely. Establishing new metrics of success can keep your organisation progressing right now in stakeholder engagement activities.

Ready to establish new goals and make the most of the stakeholder landscape in lockdown? Find out how the Vuelio Stakeholder Relationship Management platform has helped our clients do just this.

3 comms resources to track when working remotely

Working from home is creating issues for comms teams, but there are three simple tips that can help your team work more effectively, wherever they are.

Confusion is caused by multiple versions of shared spreadsheets and long email chains. Not only are these hard to keep track of, they can also be a data security risk, and it is easy to lose contacts and opportunities.

You need to be able to manage your team’s workload effectively, so you can focus on the strategic work that drives your communications.

Three things that every comms team should keep track of:

1. Lines to take
Keep your communications consistent by approving lines to take on a topic/issue and making these accessible to the whole team, remote working or otherwise.

2. Interactions with journalists
When did you last speak with them? What about? Are they interested and engaged? Track interactions with journalists and other stakeholders to manage relationships effectively. Doing this in a centralised place makes it easy for the team to avoid doubling up or calling someone who doesn’t want to hear from you.

3. Inbound media and stakeholder enquiries
Knowing what enquiries are coming in to your comms teams can help with managing the workload as well as spotting if there are any trends in what is being asked to enable you to respond more efficiently.

Vuelio provides a customisable CRM for hundreds of remote PR and communications teams, which allows them to share pitch notes and lines to take, and securely tracks all their interactions in one place.

This ensures business continuity, consistency and visibility for effective collaboration.

Find out more about Vuelio Stakeholder Management.

East London

Re-thinking growth in post-COVID London

Julian Ellerby is the Director of Local London – a strategic partnership of eight boroughs in the east and north east of the capital. The national pandemic means we need to review how we approach growth while faced with a potential recession. In this guest post, Julian describes some of the potential solutions. 

It’s time to review our approach to growth.

The implication of this pandemic will be wholesale reassessment of how we go about so many aspects of our lives.

Take digital and virtual working. Parliament has reconvened in a hybrid state of physical and virtual meetings. Will that become normal?

The most important lesson we can take from this emergency is resilience. How ready were we, and how ready would we be should something equally catastrophic happen again?

We will need politicians to build harder resilience into policy making to manage future traumas.

The greatest hit however has been on our economy and ability to work.

The use of furlough, grants and tax relief is papering over the cracks, but the fact that more than one million have registered for universal credit is a strong indicator of the impact.

Working here in the most deprived part of the capital, I have seen that COVID-19 will leave our communities even further behind.

With the global financial crash and now the health crisis, we’ve had two international traumas in a dozen years. Who can say when the next will be?

Here in East London we work as a strategic partnership of eight local authorities as a collaborative called Local London. We work for good inclusive growth. That means ensuring benefits are felt by local people and they also have the power to influence how growth impacts on the places they live and work.

To ensure growth is meaningful there are 10 areas that will make it more resilient:

1. Level closer – you must reduce inequality to mitigate future challenges
The greater the levels of inequality, the lower the resilience to manage trauma. Access to the right skills, well-paid employment, secure housing tenure, strong in-work training and a properly funded benefits system all reduce pressure on the system during the calm periods and are essential during times of crisis.

2. Change place thinking to respond to changing habits
The whole concept of workspace is changing and home as ‘office’ is now the norm. We should provide much more collaborative workspaces for those industries that need them and stronger digital capacity. In East London, we need to invest in creating a small number of multi-purpose centres for work, leisure and retail in the same way Stratford has grown following the Olympics. The key is to rethink workspace so that it pre-empts the attitudes and habits of those that access it.

3. Third sector funded effectively and brought closer to local government
The third sector needs sustainable funding arrangements in place that are closely aligned to local government. The finances should be ring-fenced and a proper package of training, development support put in place.

4. Digital infrastructure prioritised over other infrastructure
Digital investment is essential to enable new types of working and a new economy. In the same way major transport infrastructure gets significant attention, we need to apply that to digital. We also need to create effective governance at scale so that all parts of the country have the best digital infrastructure.

5. Devolve responsibility for land to give local accountability
Devolve decisions about industrial land, permitted development, housing builds, workspace and even the green belt through a clear policy framework. Let local government plan strategically for their areas and coordinate strategic planning with neighbouring authorities.

6. Support SME sustainability all year round
SMEs make up over 95% of local businesses across Local London. Six out of 10 new businesses will be gone within three years of inception.  Put in place funded enterprise agencies, better loan schemes supported by training packages and flexible apprenticeship programmes.

7. Address the gig economy up front
There is fragility in employment – low paid zero-hour contracts have inbuilt risk. Employers and employees need to have mitigations in place against risks. This means employment rights, contracts, pay, pensions and job security need a full-scale review.

8. Supply chains monitored and managed
Local authorities are using their own contracts and procurement systems to support local suppliers. But there is not enough knowledge about business interdependency. Agree standards and invest in monitoring supply chains.

9. Invest in innovation as a cross-cutting theme
Invest in innovation across public sector bodies constantly and put money into sharing best practice to scale up.

10. Create regional financial reserves for local government
Introduce regional pooling of reserves, funded initially by Government. This ensures broader strategic decisions are made on where to invest or how and when to call on them.

Building greater resilience into the approach to growth will benefit everyone who lives and works in this part of London and must now be a priority.


This guest post is part of a series on Vuelio’s political blog Point of Order, which publishes insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Navigating uncertainty

Navigating uncertainty: the Vuelio toolkit for communicators

PR and comms are playing a critical role in delivering information during the COVID-19 outbreak.

From creating and maintaining consistent messaging, which aligns with brand values, to getting used to new working arrangements, teams are stretched and still expected to provide value to all their stakeholders, both internally and externally.

On top of all this, each organisation must keep up with the latest Government guidelines, which are evolving daily.

Navigating uncertainty: The Vuelio toolkit for communicators has been created to support the industry in these challenging times.

The toolkit includes stats and information on the coronavirus outbreak, including its impact on the media landscape, linked resources to help with everything from virtual events and networking to staying focused while working at home, and it also includes our top 10 lessons to keep your comms effective in a crisis.

It also includes links to our COVID-19 daily bulletin and our next yoga session on Thursday, which will hosted virtually. We hope you can join us there.

Download the toolkit and find out more about how Vuelio can support you.



Tips for using Vuelio to collaborate effectively

Whether your team is in one place or remote working in different locations, Vuelio can help you keep on top of your comms activity and maintain a consistent message.

Here are our top tips:

Create an Issue to keep track of activity around a topic

Keep your messaging consistent by using the SRM’s Issues module, which has lines to take and briefing tools. You can link all of your media enquiries, releases and coverage to help you see exactly what’s going on around a particular topic and who everyone is speaking to about it.

Communicate with stakeholders

Use the built-in email distribution tool to keep your stakeholders and the media up to date.

Create groups in your Vuelio Media Database or add private contacts and send them emails directly. You’ll then be able to see who you’ve engaged using the email distribution report as well as on each contact’s profile.

Keep track of who is talking to whom

Use the module in SRM to keep track of inbound media enquiries and outbound comms. This will help everyone organise and avoid duplicating efforts with media and influencer outreach.

You can link Interactions to contacts, subjects and releases, assign to a colleague and create follow-up tasks to help manage your team’s workflow effectively.

Automated tagging of coverage

We can automatically tag your monitoring content, making it simple to report on coverage by emerging topics, keywords, brands or competitors.

ResponseSource Journalist Enquiries

While you’re managing new ways of working, the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry service continues to be a source of great PR opportunities for your organisation. Requests come to you by email allowing you to react to relevant requests, including lots of non-coronavirus content being sought by the media right now, and expand your network.

Effective communications in disrupted times

Effective communications in disrupted times

These are extraordinary times that are intensely challenging for our customers’ as they work to maintain coordinated, effective communications to multiple stakeholders in a fast changing environment. This has never been more important and we want to help.

We recognise that every organisation is grappling with exceptional enquiry volumes so from today we’re offering all clients complimentary access to the Vuelio Interactions module for three months. This will enable you to track and manage contact with your stakeholders so even though your team are remote working, you can manage and keep all communications consistent.

We have seen our customers’ manage high coverage volumes so to streamline reporting we will provide Vuelio Canvas, which will also be complimentary to clients for three months. This is a digital coverage tool that quickly and powerfully presents coverage in a way that can be easily shared to keep your stakeholders up to date on coverage, social media and latest published information.

We know that the work of front line, emergency organisations in communicating latest information to stakeholders is critical in managing this health crisis. So, from today, we’re offering NHS, police, fire service, and health and social care charities three months of online media monitoring including news alerts, at no cost. This will support you to understand the changing news agenda and implications for your organisation.

Please contact your account manager to find out more.

We are in a fast changing policy environment so to keep ahead of what this means, we’re offering a free daily bulletin from our political team, summarising COVID-related announcements from official Government sources, key Government spokespeople, industry and community stakeholders. Sign up to the bulletin here.

Alongside offering access to our products, we also want to support your teams to build their confidence in using the platform as they work remotely. From next week, every day at 3pm we will run online Vuelio Training Academies. These 30-minute sessions will be facilitated by Vuelio experts and explain how to get the most from functionalities including:

  • Interactions logging
  • Canvas
  • Media Monitoring
  • Media Database
  • Press Release Distribution

These sessions can be signed up to here, where the weekly schedule will also be available. If there are other areas of the product that it would be useful to cover, please do email your account manager to ask for them to be added.

These are challenging economic times that we all face. If you have any concerns that we can help with, get in touch with your account manager who can be contacted by phone or email as normal.

Boris Johnson

What does a new Government mean for stakeholder engagement?

The dust is still settling on Prime Minister Johnson’s new cabinet appointments, which he made as soon as he came into power with a ferocity rarely seen. For those working in external affairs, keeping track of the resignations, sackings and appointments was only just the beginning, as they now find themselves in a period of stakeholder mapping, research and analysis, leading to an autumn of engagement activity with new decision makers and their teams.

A new agenda and leadership can be daunting to even the most seasoned external affairs team. Stakeholder mapping is time intensive and measuring opportunity and risk can be complex, whether it is the new appointment’s relationship with your organisation, stance on policy issues or a general lack of access.

For those organisations seeking to enter political stakeholder engagement for the first time, the new Government could be considered a blessing, but it is often difficult to know where to start. When the stage is reset, it creates space for new voices to be heard but mobilising resource to take advantage of this can be a huge hurdle.

Whether experienced or taking the leap into influencing for the first time, reviewing your processes for managing and maintaining key influential relationships is now vital. A pivotal time of change offers opportunity that should not be held back by inefficiency.

At Vuelio, we work with teams of all sizes and varying levels of experience, and they all have a single shared objective: managing effective stakeholder relationships in an increasingly volatile external environment. We help build the foundations of your external affairs structure through software that provides not only the intelligence you need, but also a selection of tools that let you map stakeholders live, as the agenda changes.

Delivering a stakeholder engagement strategy in uncertain times requires agility and belief. Working with tools such as Vuelio Stakeholder Relationship Management gives you a broad set of reports and analytics at your fingertips, that can support the decision to change direction or detail the health of any relationship. This allows you to continue to lead your organisation through the unknown and achieve your goals.

Augur Review feature image

A long time coming: The Augar Review

After over a year of speculation, delays, Brexit and leaks, the highly anticipated Review of Post-18 Education was finally published on Thursday.

Prior to publication, momentum on the Review had reached an all-time low, with WonkHE dubbing it a “delayed, unwinnable and unanswerable” search for an answer to a question that was never really posed in the first place. The headline leak of lowering tuition fees to £7,500 had already been digested by sector stakeholders, and the main expectation was that the plan for topping up this lost income would come through boosted teaching grants.

In short, the sector was not wrong. The Review’s approach to Higher Education funding is ambiguous. Differential treatment has been given to subjects in line with the Industrial Strategy, and the proposal to extend student loans to benefit the taxpayer has gone down like a led balloon with both trade unions and university associations due to its preferential treatment of higher-earning graduates.

A key focus on improving social mobility is evident throughout the Review, though some recommendations, such as the removal of popular foundation years, could be seen to miss the mark. If implemented, Augar’s advocacy for better investment in Further Education alongside its endorsement of a flexible student finance system would likely encourage a more diverse range of students to pursue lifelong learning and ‘upskill’ later in life.

Augar’s vision for the future imagines a post-18 education landscape where education leads to employment. School careers hubs will be vital for enabling fair choice for prospective students, FE colleges will provide community learning leading to sustainable career opportunities, and apprenticeships will become viable degree alternatives.  If these recommendations are taken on board, the sector landscape could be set to change, with industry playing a key part in career-based schemes and the future automation of work setting the technical education agenda.

In line with the trend of overshadowing that Augar followers will be used to by now, the Review’s publication comes in the wake of a Tory leadership battle. The next Prime Minister is unlikely to have the exact same priorities as Theresa May, leaving a question mark over when, how and indeed if the recommendations will be implemented. Casting all doubts to the side, we’re glad it’s finally out.

Find out more about in our Issue Spotlight: Augar Review which summarises all the key findings, recommendations and stakeholder reactions.

ICO charity tips

How charity comms teams can stay data compliant

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published data protection tips for charities. Charities rely on data – from their donors, beneficiaries, clients, partners, media contacts, influencers, staff and trustees – in order to achieve their goals and ultimately support those in need. Charity comms teams often have to juggle data from all of these otherwise disparate groups, making data compliance a key part of the modern comms role.

The ICO has presented charities with five data compliance tips:

  • Set compliance goals
  • Host training sessions
  • Prepare for the unexpected
  • Keep on top of data housekeeping
  • Be transparent about people’s data

It suggests that ‘data protection compliance should be one of the main priorities of an organisation’, and as we’re almost one year on from the implementation of the GDPR, most charities should now have a good understanding of their data management processes and how they are compliant.

As a reminder, the General Data Protection Regulation requires every organisation that processes data to have a legal basis for doing so, which should also be made clear to everyone whose data you’re processing.

There’s also a requirement for staff to know why and how you’re processing data, which is why the ICO includes advice to ‘Host training sessions’. This is good advice for both new and existing team members. While it may seem like we all swallowed the GDPR dictionary last year – at Vuelio we produced a large number of resources for PR and comms professionals (you can see them all here) – how many new team members have you taken on since 25 May 2018? And how much do you remember from the advice at the time?

Refreshers and training for communications teams are great, but if you don’t have the right tools in place then it’s all talk and no substance, and compliance can prove complicated. Vuelio helps you stay fully GDPR compliant, with tools to automatically send your privacy policies out, record consent and record an audit trial so if anyone ever requests their data, you can prove how and when you’ve collected and used it.

This means when the unexpected happens, not only are you more prepared – as the ICO recommends – but you’re also equipped to quickly and easily produce evidence of your data compliance, keeping your stakeholders happy.

If you’d like to find out more about how Vuelio can help you manage your GDPR requirements and data protection compliance, fill out our dedicated form here and one of our compliance experts will be in touch.

Your guide to local elections

Your Guide to Local Elections

Your guide to local elections

This year, local elections will take place on 2 May and thousands of councillors will be elected across the country.

Your Guide to Local Elections breaks down what different councils and councillors do, the local election timeline, the rules around purdah and the biggest future issues facing councils.

Get the definitive guide to local council elections by filling out the form below.

UK Bloggers Survey 2019 Featured Image


UK Bloggers Survey 2019 Featured Image

The UK Bloggers Survey 2019 provides unrivalled insight into the blogging industry and has, for the first time, included results on pay.

Over a quarter of all blog content is now compensated for in some way and there are an increasing number of professional bloggers to collaborate with.

Get the definitive guide to influencer marketing by filling out the form below.

Get Ahead with Forward Planning for web

Get Ahead with Forward Planning

Get ahead with forward planning


Forward planning is vital for a successful PR strategy. This white paper acts as a resource for all comms-related planning, including awards – how to win them and which ones to enter – industry events, the importance of training and how to get the most out of forward features.

2019 is yours for the taking, get ahead with forward planning – download the white paper by filling out the form below.