Who should I write to?

As a UK citizen, you have many representatives, at several levels of government.

Each of them has a different set of responsibilities, and it is worth making sure that your message goes to the person who is best placed to help you.

When should I contact my MP?

You’ll often hear people say, "I’m going to write to my MP" when something upsets them. It’s a wide-held belief that MPs are there to solve every type of problem.

In fact, Parliament and central government are only responsible for certain matters. Those are the issues with which your MP can help. If your problem does not fall within one of the following areas, then you should consider contacting one of your other representatives.

MPs can help you with matters such as:

  • Tax problems involving HM Revenue & Customs (but not issues with, for example, the council tax, which is administered by your local authority).
  • Problems with hospitals and the NHS, if you are in England. The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly are responsible for health matters in Scotland and Wales respectively.
  • Problems with benefits, pensions and national insurance (but not problems with the social services department of your local authority).
  • Issues dealt with by the Home Office, such as immigration.
  • In England, matters such as school closures and grants (but not day to day problems involving schools, which are overseen by their governors and your local education authority). In Scotland and Wales the devolved Parliament and Assembly respectively are responsible for education issues.

Your MP cannot help you in private disputes with other individuals or with companies who have sold you faulty goods, nor, for example, can they interfere with decisions made by courts.

You and Your MP [PDF], a factsheet produced by Parliament, has more information about what your MP can do for you.

When should I contact a councillor?

Councillors have differing responsibilities depending on which council you live in. Because of these variations we are only able to give you ‘rule-of-thumb’ guidance here.

Firstly, in England you may have two levels of council: County and District, in which case their responsibilities are divided as follows:

  • District Councillors: If you have one or more District Councillor, they tend to deal with issues around council housing, planning, rubbish collection, the local environment, and the administration of elections.
  • County Councillors: If you have one or more county councillors, they tend to deal with education, transport and roads, fire and social services plus libraries.

Otherwise, you will have only one council, whose responsibilities differ depending on exactly where you live. We describe these on the page which lists your councillors.

Don’t worry if you’re not absolutely sure who to pick! Whoever you write to should forward your letter to the most appropriate person, if you haven’t got it quite right.

When should I contact an MEP?

If you have a question about proposed European directives (laws), the European Parliament, Commission or Union, your MEPs may be able to help.

Once passed, EU laws become the responsibility of national governments and parliaments to implement, so you may wish to contact your MP about them in that case.

In addition, and for all EU matters, the European Commission and Parliament also have specific Information Offices within the UK – www.europarl.org.uk and ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom. If you have an enquiry, rather than a problem, they are a good place to start.

Note that MEPs cannot help raise an issue with the European Court of Human Rights. The Convention is incorporated into UK law, so any challenge must start in the UK legal system.

When should I contact an MSP?

MSPs deal with any issues for which the Scottish Parliament is responsible. They include:

  • health
  • education and training
  • local government
  • social work
  • housing
  • planning
  • tourism, economic development and financial assistance to industry
  • some aspects of transport, including the Scottish road network, bus policy and ports and harbours
  • law and home affairs, including most aspects of criminal and civil law, the prosecution system and the courts
  • police and fire services
  • environment
  • natural and built heritage
  • agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • sport and the arts
  • statistics, public registers and records

For constituency matters, you can approach any one of the MSPs who represent you. Do not contact more than one MSP on a constituency matter, as this will cause potential delays.

Only contact all your regional MSPs about issues that apply to all of them – for example, if you wish them to cast a particular vote in the Scottish Parliament.

When should I contact a Northern Ireland Assembly Member?

The Northern Ireland Assembly can help you with the following matters:

  • Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Culture, Arts and Leisure
  • Education
  • Employment and Learning
  • Enterprise, Trade and Investment
  • Environment
  • Finance and Personnel
  • Health, Social Services and Public Safety
  • Justice
  • Regional Development
  • Social Development

Issues for which you should contact your Westminster MP, rather than your Assembly Member, include navigation and civil aviation, financial services, telecommunications, postal services, the national minimum wage, defence, immigration, taxation, and elections.

When should I contact a Welsh Assembly Member?

The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for:

  • Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development
  • Ancient monuments and historic buildings
  • Culture
  • Economic development
  • Education and training
  • Environment
  • Fire and rescue services and promotion of fire safety
  • Food
  • Heath and health services
  • Highways and transport
  • Housing
  • Local government
  • Public administration
  • Social welfare
  • Sport and recreation
  • Tourism
  • Town and county planning
  • Water and flood defence
  • Welsh language

Issues for which you should contact your Westminster MP, rather than your Assembly Member, include police, prisons, the justice system, tax and benefits, defence, national security and foreign affairs.

When should I contact a London Assembly Member?

The Greater London Authority’s main areas of responsibility are:

  • Transport
  • Policing
  • Fire and emergency planning
  • Economic development
  • Planning
  • Culture
  • Environment
  • Health

Assembly Members can also hold the Mayor of London to account.

For local issues which fall outside those topics, you should contact your local councillor.