Government to create new head of resilience role

New strategy aims to improve transparency and accountability over resilience work
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By Tevye Markson

20 Dec 2022

The government will create a new head of resilience role to oversee departments’ emergency planning work and improve cross-government working,  as part of a new  strategy announced by the Cabinet Office.

The head of resilience will guide best practice, encourage adherence to standards, and set guidance, with the aim of improving transparency and accountability, the Cabinet Office said.

Lead government departments will continue to take responsibility for individual national security risk assessments, with the head of resilience providing leadership for this system.

The government said it will clarify roles and responsibilities across government for each risk, but has only set itself a target of 2025 to do this.  This review will aim to avoid a repeat of the Covid pandemic, where “treating [it] as a health emergency meant that there was limited planning outside of the healthcare sector”, the framework states.

The head of resilience will complement the existing role of the National Security Advisor.  Devolved administrations will retain control over resilience, with the new head of resilience working with them in partnership.

To strengthen accountability, the government has committed to delivering an annual statement to parliament on civil contingencies risk and the UK government’s performance on resilience.

The Cabinet Office said the strategy will make resilience a national endeavour for the first time in what it dubbed a “whole of society” approach.

“Resilience has long been part of the UK’s approach to national security, but in an increasingly integrated world in which we cannot predict or prevent all of the challenges ahead, we need to refresh our approach – that’s why we are making resilience a national endeavour, so that as a country we are prepared for the next crisis, whatever it may be,” Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said.

The plan also includes:

  • Growing the government’s advisory groups made up of experts, academics and industry experts to inform risk planning and provide external challenge
  • Creating a new sub-committee of the National Security Council to specifically consider issues relating to resilience
  • Creating a UK Resilience Academy, built out from the Emergency Planning College, to make world class professional training available to all that need it
  • Strengthening Local Resilience Forums in England by working across three key pillars of reform – leadership, accountability, and integration of resilience into the UK’s levelling up mission

The framework follows the commitment made in last year’s Integrated Review to strengthen the government’s approach to resilience.

Since then, the Cabinet Office has created a dedicated COBR unit to continue to lead the government’s response to emergencies and established a Resilience Directorate to take a more strategic approach to national resilience and drive work across the system to strengthen it.

The government has also set up the National Situation Centre to bring data, analysis and insight together, boosting the government’s ability to identify, monitor and manage risks. During the extreme heat in July, SitCen worked with partners to identify vulnerable groups and locations, enabling responders to target support effectively.

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