To consider a report from the Interim Director of Finance (copy enclosed)
The Committee had before them a report which provided members with a progress update on the Corporate Risk Register for the third quarter to 31 December 2022 and projected quarter 4 position. This was the final Corporate Risk Report for Cumbria County Council prior to the commencement of the two Unitary Councils, Cumberland and Westmorland & Furness, on vesting day, 1 April 2023.
All corporate risks at the end of Quarter 3 had been reviewed by the Risk Owners Group, Directorate Management Teams, Corporate Management Team and considered at Cabinet Briefing. The Quarter 3 risks and direction of travel outlined in this report should provide assurance that the Council’s current Risk Management arrangements were robust, responsive and effective.
The Senior Risk Officer took members through the report and reminded them of the uncertainty and complexity of a number of threats and issues some of which were the result of National and International issues and trends and including:-
· Ongoing challenges of demand and capacity across Adult Social Care and the Care Sector as well as Children’s Services, due to increasing demand and an inability to match this with workforce capacity.
· COVID and flu – COVID-19 continued to have a direct and disruptive effect on staff shortages and a direct impact on Council Services.
· The ‘Cost of Living Crisis’ is driving national and local government agendas in an attempt to help mitigate the impact of this crisis within communities.
· Inflationary pressures – the Council continues to face significant financial pressures relating to high levels of inflation.
· Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) preparations continue to accelerate providing additional competing priorities.
· An increasing number of strikes across public and private sector organisations
At the end of Quarter 3 fourteen corporate risks remained on the County Council’s risk register, of which 8 were high risks and 6 medium risks. No risks had been removed or added during Q3, and no risks had been reworded.
The Senior Risk Officer notified members that one risk had reduced in score which was the risk that the Council’s revenue & capital budget was insufficient to fund current services.This had reduced from 20 to 12.
The report also considered the projected status of all Corporate Risks by the end of Quarter 4. It was anticipated that on 31 March 2023 (Q4) the level of risk exposure from most of the current corporate risks would remain consistent with the risk score illustrated in this report for the Quarter 3 period.
There was one exception to this which was the risk related to the impact of LGR on the sustained provision of Council Services and on the good and effective closure of the County Council.
Due to the number of measures and controls that had been implemented, both within and beyond the LGR Programme, to ensure Council Services were not unduly impacted during the implementation phase of the LGR Programme, the anticipated consequences had not materialised. It was therefore likely that the Quarter 4 position for this risk would see a reduction in the risk likelihood taking the score from 16 to that of 8, as such the target score at end of Q3 had been reduced to a score of 8.
In readiness for the new councils the Senior Risk Officer informed members that Strategic Risk Workshops have now taken place within the two shadow Authorities to consider all current Corporate Level Risks across all seven sovereign authorities for their ongoing relevance and to identify any new risks that may impact the newly formed Councils over the first 1-2 years.
Finally, in preparation for Day 1 and the early period of service delivery for each new Council, Business Continuity Boards and Service Continuity Teams were being established to monitor any trends or increase in demand for support during the early phases of the new Councils.
One of the members was surprised to note that covid had still been assessed as high risk, especially as there were no longer any restrictions in place for this.
The Senior Risk Officer explained that the risk was more about whether the Council was prepared and ready should any other pandemics happen. The officer had been discussing horizon scanning with new authorities to ensure they had intelligence on a number of possible risks.
The Chair hoped that the new councils would learn from the risk assessment best practice within the County Council, which had proved to be successful for many years. It would be important to have this embedded from vesting day.
She paid tribute to all the teams that played a part in making sure that effective mitigations were in place to manage potential risks.
RESOLVED, that members
(1) note the updates on Corporate Risks for Quarter 3 2022/23 and agree that this report provides sufficient assurance that the current Risk Management arrangements are both robust and effective;
(2) received a further presentation in relation to the critical area of Adult Social Care, this time to provide assurances around the effective closure of County Council Services at 31 March and the preparations for service continuity within the new Councils from 1 April 2023.