Opaque lobbying creates the conditions for “rent-seeking” or regulatory capture, whereby companies seek income through special government favours rather than productive economic activity. Rent-seeking harms the economy by diverting resources away from productive activities, and helps to shape policies that are inefficient and even harmful. Increasing economic resilience therefore necessitates tackling the issue of corporate lobbying.
Transparency International UK (TI-UK) believes that now is the time to change this. Since the UK voted for Brexit, the ensuing legal and regulatory uncertainty has increased lobbying activity, and there is a renewed urgency to reform the practice of lobbying in the UK. We believe that this is a key moment to influence large and strategically important companies to change their approach – by increasing the cost of not being transparent – – and motivate companies to engage in more transparent and accountable political engagement. This accountability would be a significant enabling step for greater economic resilience in the UK.
What is the solution?
The goal of this project is to catalyse a shift towards transparency and accountability becoming the new norm for the political activities of companies lobbying within the UK. We will:
• Conduct and launch the first full edition of a Corporate Political Engagement Index (CPEI), ranking around 100 large multinational companies on the transparency of their political activities. This will include the 40 FTSE companies included in the 2015 pilot, plus companies publicly declared to be of strategic importance to the UK by the Government. This approach means we will focus on companies that are likely to lobby most extensively within the UK.
• Use the CPEI as a tool to engage with companies to encourage improvements in their policies, procedures and reporting practices, and engage investor groups through workshops and seminars to amplify pressure for companies to change.
• Disseminate the CPEI findings online and through advocacy to policy makers, campaigners, journalists and the public including by linking with other online accountability platforms.