CAMPAIGNS: Minting firm raises issue of monopoly - Lobbying

Client: The Birmingham Mint

PR Team: AS Biss & Co

Campaign: Lobbying for Birmingham Mint

Timescale: October 2002 - January 2003

Budget: £50,000 - £100,000

The country's mints do not generally get a great deal of exposure. However, the Royal Mint and Birmingham Mint are at loggerheads. The former is an agency of the Treasury and has a monopoly on the production of UK coinage, while the latter produces the coins that are used in nine out of 12 Eurozone countries.

The falling out follows the Royal Mint's termination last year of an arrangement under which the two co-operated to win overseas business.

Aside from a legal battle, the two are now also locked in a struggle for business against a background of over-capacity in the world coin production market.

The Birmingham Mint appointed AS Biss & Co to support it with a lobbying campaign, working in partnership with Gavin Anderson and company which is handling media relations.

Objectives

To secure more business for the Birmingham Mint. More specifically, to persuade the Government to open up the UK coinage monopoly for competition, and to ensure the Royal Mint does not cross subsidise overseas activity with Crown business.

Strategy and plan

The key to the agency's plan has been to work through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Treasury Select Committee, both of which have taken an interest in the position of the Royal Mint.

A submission was made to PAC, and the Treasury Select Committee, which last year looked at the Royal Mint, has also been briefed.

Separately, Treasury ministers have been provided with information in support of the client's contention that the best interests of the taxpayer are not served by the current monopoly.

The Birmingham Mint's workforce have also been mobilised and have written to their MPs. Clare Short MP, whose constituency covers the Birmingham Mint, has also been contacted.

Measurement and Evaluation

The success of the campaign would involve a Government decision to remove the Royal Mint's monopoly, and the cessation of any cross subsidy of its overseas operations.

Should these objectives be met, the agency could - together with Gavin Anderson, which has provided a backdrop of sympathetic press coverage - claim credit for resulting increases in business.

Results

AS Biss has persuaded the PAC to call for information that will reveal whether any abuse of monopoly is taking place.

The Treasury Select Committee has indicated that it is considering holding another inquiry into the Royal Mint, following one last year.

The agency appears to have done well in identifying, and applying pressure to, the levers that might be able to influence Government policy.

AS Biss believes it will be clear before the end of the year whether the Treasury is interested in changing the status quo.

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