Authors: Tom Blake and James Baker: Labour for the Long Term
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We live in a time of unprecedented levels of risk. The UK must develop systems to prepare, mitigate and respond to national security threats at home and abroad.
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. The previous Labour Government also created the National Risk Register, and passed the Climate Change Act 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, the next 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.