Westminster Forum Projects (WFP) has its origins in the UK national Parliament, but its work now extends to policy decided in UK devolved Parliaments and Assemblies, the Oireachtas, and the European Commission and Parliament.
Westminster Forum Projects (WFP) operates a group of influential, impartial and cross-party forums: the Westminster Business Forum; the Westminster Education Forum; the Westminster eForum; the Westminster Employment Forum; the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum; the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum; the Westminster Health Forum; the Westminster Higher Education Forum; the Westminster Legal Policy Forum; the Westminster Media Forum; the Westminster Social Policy Forum; the Policy Forum for Ireland; the Policy Forum for London, the Policy Forum for Northern Ireland, Scotland Policy Conferences and the Policy Forum for Wales.
All the Westminster Forum Projects forums enjoy substantial support and involvement from key policymakers within legislatures, governments and regulatory bodies and from stakeholders in professional bodies, businesses and their advisors, consumer organisations, local government representatives, and other interested groups. The forums organise senior-level seminars on a wide range of public policy areas. None of the forums has a policy agenda of its own, other than simply to raise the quality of debate on public policy developments and so create opportunities for informed discussion.
Accordingly each Westminster Forum Projects forum is structured to facilitate the formulation of 'best' public policy by providing policymakers and implementers, and those with an interest in the issues, with a sense of the way different stakeholder perspectives interrelate. Usually this is through impartially-framed, inclusive discussion conducted either in public or under the Chatham House Rule.
Forum events are frequently the platform for major policy statements from senior Ministers and regulators, Opposition spokesmen and leading opinion-formers in industry and interest groups. Events regularly receive prominent coverage in the national media and trade press.
What kind of organisation is Westminster Forum Projects (WFP)?
We are a private company offering a proposition of strict impartiality in organising timely seminars on public policy. The aim of all seminars is to provide policymakers with context for arriving at whatever decisions they see fit, and for all delegates to have the opportunity to lobby, learn, exchange views and make contacts.
WFP forums provide significant value for the full range of interested parties, and as a consequence we enjoy strong support from within UK and devolved legislatures and governments, and from professional bodies, businesses and their advisors, citizens' organisations and others affected by the issues. All these groups regularly take part as speakers and delegates.
How is Westminster Forum Projects funded?
WFP forums derive revenue from two sources: sponsorship and the cost of individual places to events or copies of publications. There is no other source of funding.
Sponsorship is not a condition of becoming a speaker at WFP forum seminars - and final decisions on all aspects of seminars remain with the Forum in the interests of impartiality - but sponsors receive significant benefits. For further information about sponsorship and exhibition opportunities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsorship from a wide range of sources underpins each Forum's independence.
A lower concessionary price is available for small charities, pre-trading startups and the like. Complimentary places at events are made available to all members of UK and devolved legislatures, members of the Oireachtas and the European Parliament, some officials in Governments and the European Commission; and the reporting press.
What are the criteria for offering complimentary places to events?
Policymakers are offered complimentary places if they are from organisations that decide on what policy should be put in place or how it is implemented. The main groups offered complimentary places on this basis are members of the UK and devolved nation legislatures and their pass-holding staff; officials who work within UK and national government departments; European Commission officials; members of the Oireachtas and Government of Ireland officials; and some regulators who are able to decide policy. We want to make it as easy as possible for policymakers to be at our meetings so that other delegates can seek to influence the choices that they make. The reporting press are also offered complimentary places as a commercial choice, as we want to have our proceedings widely reported on.
The other broad group that are offered free or reduced-fee places are those who cannot be expected to be able to afford to attend. The reason for this is that if we didn't offer complimentary or concessionary-rate places to this group we wouldn't be fulfilling our main brand proposition of organising impartial seminars because some interested parties would be disadvantaged or even excluded from our discussions by our fees.
Would I qualify for a complimentary or concessionary place at a seminar?
Yes, if you feel you need to be involved in any particular seminar and could not reasonably be expected to afford the delegate fee. Usually this will apply to individual service users or carers, full-time students, people between jobs or who are fully retired with no paid work, and representatives of small charities - not businesses, individuals funded by an organisation, or larger charities/not-for-profit companies.
The criterion is ability to contribute so larger charities and not-for-profit organisations are expected to have the resources to pay the full delegate fee, as are commercial companies of any size. "We don't have the budget for this" or similar excuses don't wash.
Our aim is to fund our work in the fairest possible way, which is why we ask those who have the resources to pay their way so we can offer concessions and complimentary places to those who can't contribute.
If you're in doubt, fill in the online booking form or call the office.
If I am a speaker will I get paid for taking part?
No, neither speakers nor chairs are ever paid to take part in our seminars on public policy and we never make exceptions. Nor do we offer payment in kind by way of extra places, complimentary places to other events, donations to a third party such as a charity, or any other means. What we do offer is that we bring together an influential, interested set of participants to hear speaker and chair points of view and to network. All speakers and chairs are expected to stick to discussing policy rather than plug any organisation they are associated with. We only provide expenses to speakers or chairs in exceptional cases of need - either when the speaker doesn't receive funding from an organisation, or sometimes for legislators who need a taxi to get them back urgently for a debate.
What influence do sponsors have on the content of seminars?
The forums warmly welcome the involvement of sponsors, who receive significant benefits.
We consult them on themes, offer them speaker slots (if at all appropriate), prominently acknowledge their support and try to include in the audience policymakers, reporting press and stakeholders they suggest. However, no-one with a relevant point of view is excluded from seminars at the suggestion of sponsors or anyone else. For further information on sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please contact us at email@example.com.
But we organise seminars whether we get sponsorship or not, and all events adhere to our core proposition of impartiality, not to the agenda of any sponsor. Final decisions on all aspects of seminars remain with the Forum in the interests of impartiality.
Sponsorship from a range of sources underpins WFP's independence. Sponsorship is not a condition of becoming a speaker at our forums' seminars.
How do the forums decide the programme of events?
The aim of WFP forum activity is to be indispensable to all responsible stakeholders in contributing to development of the best possible public policy. So events are only held when there are real current issues to discuss and there is an opportunity for stakeholders to affect outcomes. Typically this could be when decisions are due to be made or implemented or when an emerging issue seems worth raising for information and discussion.
The core programme of events flows from informal, confidential meetings the forums regularly hold with senior officials in governments and regulatory bodies, with Special Advisors, and, of course, with our Parliamentary and Assembly patrons. These confidential discussions help us understand in detail the timing of various stages in policy formulation, consultation and implementation and often highlight key unresolved issues. We also consult industry (including our sponsors), support services, interest groups and academics. These help us schedule and structure events appropriately.
How can I offer speakers or suggestions to WFP forums?
Just get in touch. We always welcome ideas for seminar topics, the themes for discussion and for speakers - if you or a colleague would like to be considered as a speaker at an upcoming seminar, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. WFP never offers fees to speakers, and all speakers are expected to give their views on public policy, not a plug for their organisation if they have one.
How did WFP start?
The first of the forums was the Westminster Media Forum (WMF), which began as a series of annual meetings organised on behalf of the Westminster Parliament's All-Party Parliamentary Media Group in 1996. The BBC in 2002 suggested that we intensify our activity to reflect numerous events happening in this space, including the passage through Parliament of the Communications Bill. In 2003 parliamentary patrons of the WMF suggested there was a need for a similar forum on nutrition and health issues. We later added a separate series on electronic commerce and telecoms - the eForum - and then the Westminster Education Forum in 2004. Other forums have since been launched at the suggestion of Parliamentarians, officials, businesses and others.