[To provide an update on the key risks the Council faces and how it can gain assurance that these risks are being mitigated]
Martyn Sargeant, Head of Public Service Reform was in attendance for this item. He gave a brief overview of the significant activity the Council was engaged in up to senior management level regarding risk 35 - Brexit.
Councillor Philip Bateman MBE referred to the still pending transfer of the Council’s emergency planning function to the West Midlands Fire Service, the state of flux with the proposals for the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service function to transfer to the Mayor for the West Midlands Combined Authority, and the general uncertainty of Brexit. He said with all this uncertainty he was concerned that the Council did not have in place robust emergency planning arrangements in response to Brexit. The Head of Public Service Reform reported that he did not oversee resilience for the Council. However, his experience over the last few months was that the Council had a team working in resilience that was stable and settled. They were fully on top of the business continuity side, supported by the local and regional networks. The regional lead for Brexit was the Council’s previous Resilience Manager, so the Council had close links the with regional and local activity. The Council’s resilience function was in a good place and was able to cope with the impacts of Brexit.
Councillor Philip Bateman MBE asked who would be responsible for emergency planning/resilience when the Council’s Emergency Planning team transferred to the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service. Hayley Reid, Senior Auditor reported that the plan was for the team to transfer but the responsibility for the function would remain with the Council’s directors.
Councillor Obaida Ahmed sought clarification on the allocation of funding the Council had received from government for Brexit. The Head of Public Service Reform reported that the Council had received government funding of £210,000 for Brexit. The West Midlands Council’s and the West Midlands Combined Authority had agreed to allocated 50% of their government funding to create a pot of £1 million to address issues business would have with Brexit. The Councils and the Combined Authority would do a lot more regionally than they could if they each spent their individual government funding.
The Chair observed that risk 8 - Business Continuity had increased to red due to issues around Brexit. He asked if the issue was not resolved soon would the risk remain at red. The Head of Public Service Reform clarified that risk was regularly reviewed and whilst the level of uncertainty remained high it would be difficult to reduce the risk to amber. The Senior Auditor agreed that the risk would remain at red for the medium term.
The Chair asked how often the risk rating was monitored. The Senior Auditor said that the Council was reacting to events on a daily basis and the picture would not settle until the national picture became clearer.
The Chair asked whether the government funding for Brexit was enough. The Head of Public Service Reform reported that the government had put aside a pot which had been allocated. He believed it was a token amount to ensure initial costs are recovered.
The Senior Auditor then took the Committee through the remainder of the report on the key risks the Council faced and how the Committee could gain assurance that the risks were being mitigated.
Mike Ager, Independent Member said he was surprised that adult social care was not mentioned in the risk on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS). Claire Nye, Director of Finance reported that it was a significant part of the Council’s budget. As a budget item and as a pressure it was embedded in the Council’s MTFS. Mike Ager added that his point concerned more than financial aspects, it included the physical arrangements that should be in place. The Senior Auditor reported that there was a separate risk register within Adults Services and it would be reviewed in line with the query raised before the next meeting.
1. That the latest summary of the Council’s strategic risk register as at appendix 1 to the report be noted.
2. That it be noted that risk number 8 - Business Continuity Management had been temporarily increased to red in order to reflect the continuing uncertainties regarding Brexit.
3. That it be noted that risk number 23 - Cyber Security had been increased to reflect the developing nature of cyber-attacks and be ‘called-in’ for a more detailed review at the next meeting.
4. That it be noted that as the target score for risk 14 – School Improvement had been achieved and 96% of maintained schools are now at good or above, this risk had been archived and transferred to the relevant directorate risk register.
5. That the change to the target date for the reduction of risk 29 – Fire Safety, Public Buildings in order to allow time for a new compliance structure to be put in place be noted.
6. That it be noted that while no particular incidents have taken place, following a re-assessment risk 27 regarding safety concerns around the City’s tower blocks has been increased, and the title of the risk updated to City assurance of response and compliance with the requirements of National Building Safety Programme, Grenfell Inquiry Report Recommendations and MHCLG Building Regulation Guidance Advice Notice(s).
7. That the reduction in the score for risk 32 - Waste Management as the majority of service changes have now been implemented be noted.
8. That the reduction in the score for risk 34 as work is now underway on the Interchange Programme (Train Station) be noted.
9. That the main sources of assurance available to the Council against its strategic risks at Appendix 2 to the report be noted.