Business man reflection


The disruptive challenges the UK faces are now rarely the product of sudden, discreet shocks we are resilient to because of well-prepared planning. Events continue to illustrate, the ever evolving risks we face are becoming more complex, interconnected and demanding.

The range of recent emergencies has naturally tested our existing arrangements and pushed us to our limits. While we have been able to successfully provide an effective response, there is no room for complacency. We need to continue to build our collective resilience, bolstering our existing strengths and preparedness and continue to strengthen our ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare, respond, recover and learn from emergencies.

But as our world changes along with the risks we are faced with, there has been a requirement for the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) to reflect that. The CCS has served the UK resilience well for over 21 years. It set the foundations for emergency preparedness in the UK and established the core framework for multi-agency working at the local, national and international levels. 

We have seen expectations and pressures on national and local responders grow over recent years. The principle of subsidiarity remains critical. The Integrated Review, Civil Contingencies Act Review, Government’s levelling up and devolution agenda support strengthening local resilience - with the support of common standards and a strong centre to aid integration and effective collaborative working.

However, the complexity of the disruptive challenges we could face over the next few years means that the Cabinet Office has made some organisational changes to support how the UK Government responds to emergencies and improves the long term resilience of the UK.

To ensure the capability and capacity to support the UK Government and resilience partners, the Cabinet Office has pivoted the resource of CCS to have two dedicated resilience functions. These are: 

• The COBR Unit, which will remain in the National Security Secretariat, will lead the government’s response to acute emergencies, domestic and international, malicious and non-malicious, and drive further professionalisation of emergency management in government. 

• The National Resilience Framework Team within the Cabinet Office’s new Planning and Analysis Secretariat (PAS) that will lead the UK Government's efforts to bolster the UK's resilience. It will deliver the new resilience strategy; ensure the legislative and governance arrangements for resilience are robust; deepen understanding of risks; coordinate a focused programme of preparedness at the national and local levels for the most serious challenges which threaten the UK.

Overall, PAS will work to get upstream of the risks facing the UK and ensure we are designing resilience into policies and strategies. This unit will be responsible for driving forward the UK Government’s work on national resilience, manage the resilience system, resilience frameworks and risk processes. It will also undertake longer term work to enhance resilience, as well as providing data and analytical support to decision making. 

The Minister for Resilience and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Kit Malthouse MP, announced these organisational changes to CCS during his visit to the Met Office on the 15th August:   

“To make sure that government continues to offer the best possible prevention and protection against threats, we are shaking up how we prepare for and respond to emergencies, strengthening the effective resilience capability we already have in place…..Our vital COBR unit - which leads the government’s response to acute domestic and international emergencies - will be bolstered by a dedicated team helping to future-proof us from harm. This National Resilience Framework Team will take a deeper look at our approach to risk and how we mitigate it and help us take huge leaps forward in terms of collecting, analysing and using live data.

What does this mean for the EPC?

As the College operates for-and-on-behalf-of Cabinet Office, our raison d'être is unchanged. We will continue to work very closely with both the COBR Unit and National Resilience Framework teams delivering our training, exercising and advisory services to build the resilience of people and teams. We realise the exciting and challenging times ahead, and opportunities to support the Government’s ambition, as set out in the forthcoming strategic framework for resilience, to improve the skills and competencies needed for the UK to become the most resilient Nation.