To receive a report from the Director of Law and Governance providing a Corporate Risk Registers update.
RECEIVED a report from the Director of Law and Governance, presenting the Corporate Risk Register.
1. The report was presented by Gemma Young (Head of Internal Audit & Risk Management).
2. This was the first time the Corporate Risk Register had been presented to the committee. Previously, there was always directorate-based risk registers. There had been a lot of input from Executive Directors, Directors and Heads of Service into the Corporate Risk Register. Gemma Young intends to bring the Corporate Risk Register every quarter to the Committee.
3. The Risk Register contained the overall immediate risks for the Council, and underneath, sit operational risks. Gemma Young presented the Council’s immediate Corporate risks as detailed on pages 151-155 of the report.
4. The following questions and queries raised in response to the report:
a. Councillor Gunawardena referred to the two risks marked as high and asked what the mitigations were for these.
Gemma Young clarified the mitigations for the following current high risks:
· CR01 – Budget Management – Finance have many mitigations in place for budget management i.e. using Horizon scanning which supports the process of building organisational resilience and is one part of a suite of tools which can help practitioners understand and prepare for future risks. The Brexit plan which considers a separate Brexit risk register and considers what the financial impact that Brexit may have. The team could try to mitigate this further, but no one knows what settlement there will be with Brexit and what will happen in 3 years. So much is outside of our control and that is why it remains a high risk.
· CR11 – Housing – This risk remains high because of the huge ambitions the authority has in terms of housing and the associated risks. An example of this is the Meridian Water project which is earmarked for 10,000 units of housing and despite the mitigations in place it remains a high risk to deliver all the units required.
b. The Chair asked how often the Corporate Risk Register is updated and how is each potential risk allocated to an officer. Gemma Young clarified that the big risks tend to be owned by the Executive Directors, but there are operational risks sitting underneath these that will be owned by Heads of Service and officers below that. In terms of review, it will be looked at by the Assurance Board, chaired by the Chief Executive, every quarter. However, before that happens, Gemma Young would be sending the Corporate Risk Register round to all Executive Directors to see if there are any updates. The team also plan to attend departmental meetings as well on a twice year basis. This is to see what may be emerging i.e. if risk is still relevant, to change the rating, etc. So, these risks are reviewed quarterly by the Assurance Board and quarterly by the Audit & Risk Management Committee and are continuously being updated.
c. In response to Councillor Gunawardena’s enquiry about CR11 – Housing risk and the housing strategy programme, Gemma Young clarified that the housing strategy runs for at least 3 years and is very much a long-term strategy rather than year on year. The housing team will be at the heart of the Meridian Water (MW) project and would have a programme on MW i.e. acquiring the land and negotiating with developers. The housing team would also be working alongside the MW team to ensure that what is being delivered is within that strategy i.e. certain percentage of affordable housing.
d. Peter Nwosu enquired what should we expect from the comprehensive Corporate risk register. There are 2 high risk items which need to get to medium. The other risks, given the nature of them, are medium. Should we expect them to be medium or lower. As a committee, should we be looking to ensure that we are in that medium space generally as regards the risks. Gemma Young clarified that it would be difficult as they are such high risks and she would be worried if the Council are scoring these as low. Because they are such high risks, Gemma Young would not expect to see many of them drop through the year.
Members of the committee should be happy with the mitigations, what is the assurance that we are mitigating those, should you call in officers and question them on the housing strategy, how are you delivering what has been agreed by the council to deliver, etc.
Changes to the Corporate risk register will be reported back to the committee. The key here is, are we doing everything we can to control this risk and how can you assure me.
e. Councillor Gunawardena queried CR12 – Major Capital Projects and its medium rating. Given the scale and size of some of these projects, was medium the correct rating. Gemma Young clarified that it is correct. The Capital Board which sits in the middle and has officer oversight of all the Capital Programmes. This has been in force for about 6 months and has made a big difference. Previously, capital projects existed within their own directorates. The Capital Board meets monthly and is a frequent control of these projects. The risk is at medium at present but is always under review.
f. Fay Hammond clarified that CR01 – Budget Management is a high risk of the budget. A paper was heard last year about financial resilience of the local authority (October 2018) because officers deemed it a risk. The paper will be heard again at the October 2019 committee meeting. We could ask officers concerned with the Housing high risk to also do the same (CR11 – Housing).
ACTION – Gemma Young (Head of Internal Audit & Risk Management).
g. Members felt that the Corporate risk register should be a standing item at every committee meeting. Given that the Council has this risk register, are there any material risks that have changed or should be added to, since the committee last met. The committee has a responsibility to note that risks have been assessed and are being dealt with appropriately and if there are risks identified by this committee they should then be actioned by officers. A proposal will be made, through the Chair, that this item should be a standing item even if the committee note that nothing material has changed. Gemma Young clarified that the Corporate risk register is an item on virtually all the scheduled committee meetings.
The Chair stated that this will be discussed with Gemma Young to provide this information at the next scheduled committee meeting, Corporate Risk Register to every meeting or quarterly.
ACTION – Gemma Young (Head of Internal Audit & Risk Management).
h. Councillor Barry stated that the committee needs to know, from the risk register, what has changed, any movement, risks that remain high and what is being done to mitigate those. Gemma Young clarified that what she is proposing to bring then are 2 versions of the Corporate Risk Register. One would be the final version and the other will show where the anecdotal changes are and should be less confusing.
5. The Chair thanked Gemma Young for her report.
AGREED to note the risks recorded the Corporate Risk Register.