The 4 steps to holding your government to account

1. Research
What issue do you think the UK government needs to work harder at? You should be  able to search online about the issue and find out what the action the UK Government has taken on it. For example, if you feel that the UK government needs to work harder on mental health services, research the current situation to establish what exactly you would ask of the Government.

2. Find the Gap
Look up the targets and indicators of the SDGs here. Which of the targets and indicators address the issue you are interested in? Is there something you think is missing? Just because there is something that isn’t mentioned, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look it up. In fact, it’s more important to bring to life an issue which isn’t included!

For example: Target 3.7 (“By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes”) includes comprehensive sexuality education. However, the indicators of Target 3.7 don’t measure anything on comprehensive sexuality education! To miss out on monitoring such an important topic would impair progress on the overall target, so we decided to make our own ‘complementary’ indicator: “Proportion of 15 – 25 year olds that were satisfied with their experience of Sexual and Reproductive Education (SRE)”.

3. Back up
Support your ‘advocacy ask’ with data to present evidence for your claims. You can’t prove that the UK Government is underperforming on providing services for domestic abuse victims when you have no data to prove this. There are two ways to go about getting your data, depending on what evidence you want:

  1. Secondary Data: For issues where you want to collect data encompassing a broad range and wide number of people, you can use data from verified sources which has already been collected. This can be used, for example, if you want:
    1. The number of SRH services available to woman in your constituency
    2. The literacy rates of 11 year olds in England and Wales who
    3. The ratio of girls : boys in STEM subjects at universities across the UK.
  2. Primary Data: You can collect your own data if you think there isn’t any available data on what you want and if this is realistic to your capacity. This may especially be the case in data which covers the experiences and needs of young people.
    1. A focus group on what young people believe to be good SRE
    2. A nationwide survey on cyberbullying
    3. Interviews with young people on the quality of their health care experiences

For more on how to collect primary data, visit our How to collect your own primary data page!

4. Contact the decision-makers!
This is the most important step! Why do all this research if no one is going to see it? You don’t have to just contact your MP, but email MPs who have relevant positions on the issue you are talking about. In the UK Parliamentary system, we have ‘All Party Parliamentary Groups’ on hundreds of social, political and economic issues, made up of various MPs across parties. These groups work on legislation pertaining to their issues, so why not contact the members of an APPG which addresses an issue you want to hold the government accountable for?
Here is a list of all APPGs, click on one you are interested in and you’ll be able to find the details of the MPs you should be contacting: https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/170215/contents.htm
To write to your local councillor, MP, MEP, MSP: https://www.writetothem.com 

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If you have any questions, contributions, or would like our advice, do feel free to contact us – we are happy to help others in their accountability actions!