This post sets out Labour for the Long Term's submission to the Labour Party 2023 Policy Forum, responding to question four within the theme ‘A Green and Digital Future: Delivering Growth’ - What policies can help contribute to the four missions outlined in Labour’s industrial strategy?
This submission outlines policies that can contribute towards building a resilient economy and society, and focuses on the Government Resilience Framework.
We live in a time of unprecedented levels of civil contingency risk, from extreme weather events caused by runaway climate change, to the possibility of another deadly pandemic. We can overcome these challenges by building a resilient nation.
Following COVID-19, we have a huge opportunity to place resilience at the heart of policymaking. We learned the hard way that an insufficient focus on risks like pandemics costs thousands of lives and billions of pounds: not only did 200,000 people in the UK lose their lives to COVID-19, but the pandemic also led to £310 billion in extra government spending and an increase in the UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio from 80% to 100%.
The Conservatives have failed to translate the lessons from COVID-19 into government policy, and the UK is still unprepared for future risks, endangering the lives of our children and grandchildren.
A Labour Government can promise more. Labour has a proud history of building national resilience, introducing the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, which remains the basis of resilience planning in the UK. It was also the Labour Government of 2008 that created the National Risk Register, ranking pandemics as the most significant national security threat to the UK, and passed the first Climate Change Act in 2008.
In December 2022, the UK Government released its long-awaited Resilience Framework, setting out its strategy to improve the UK’s ability to prepare for and respond to civil contingencies. Welcome features of the new framework include commitments to improve the UK’s National Security Risk Assessment, create a new Head of Resilience, and increase regulation of the private sector to improve resilience standards.
Nevertheless, there remain a significant number of limitations and weaknesses in the Framework. These include:
- The absence of a whole-of-society approach to resilience;
- Inadequate focus on vulnerable and marginalised communities;
- Slow speed of adoption of key reforms;
- Inadequate risk management systems; and
- Absence of focus on long-term and catastrophic risks.
To address these shortcomings, a future Labour Government should commit to reviewing and strengthening the Resilience Framework as a priority upon taking office.
A Labour Resilience Framework should do the following:
- Create a resilience culture at the heart of society, through a programme of education for individuals and families and by including resilience in planning requirements.
- Overhaul Local Resilience Forum infrastructure, and place the Resilience Standards for Local Resilience Forums on a statutory footing.
- Immediately develop and implement the Social Vulnerability Index.
- Require the annual statement to Parliament on civil contingencies and resilience to include an assessment of the impact of risks on different geographical areas and on vulnerable communities.
- Include representatives from vulnerable and marginalised communities in the Government’s advisory group.
- Locate the UK Resilience Academy outside of London
- Bring forward Resilience Framework 2030 commitments to 2027 or earlier.
- Institute the three lines of defence risk management model.
- Expand the scope of the National Security Risk Assessment to cover longer timeframes and low probability risks.
- Expand the scope of the National Exercising Programme to cover low probability risks.
- Within the overarching resilience framework, design robust strategies to address specific high impact risks.
- Explore international cooperation on resilience.