As part of this item a presentation will be given on Corporate Risk 6.1 - Uncertainty and significant knock on consequences on public services (including potential legal, regulatory, economic and social implications), and the local economy as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
The Committee considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources which was to provide an overview of key risk areas and the measures being taken to address them. The report also provided updates on counter fraud and the Council’s recovery planning in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 6’, is filed with these minutes.
As part of this item, the Committee also received a presentation on Corporate Risk 6.1 on the Corporate Risk Register (EU Transition – If a formal trade agreement between the UK and EU is not in place at the end of the transition period, the UK will be treated by the EU as a third country. Trade arrangements will differ, and goods will be subject to full third country controls and a variety of border checks). A copy of the presentation slides is filed with these minutes.
(i) Regarding the Government’s national reasonable worst-case scenario, summarised on slide six of the presentation, it was clarified that the ‘delays on EU-bound trucks of a maximum of two days that could affect traffic in the east of the County’, were predicted in Kent rather than in Leicestershire.
(ii) It was expected that the time span of any impacts to the UK arising as a result of no formal trade deal being agreed with the EU would vary. For example, the traffic delays predicted in Kent could potentially affect food and medical supplies. However, the Government predicted that this issue would abate in a relatively short period of time as businesses understood and adapted to new practices. There were also some negative economic impacts predicted nationally, which it was anticipated could affect local businesses and the Council may need to provide support to the businesses.
(iii) A member expressed concern that the Government’s national reasonable worst-case scenario did not reflect reality and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was causing the Country to face serious issues such as higher levels of unemployment and business closures, only added to an already uncertain economic outlook.
(iv) In respect of Council staff that were EU nationals and their right to work in the UK, it was confirmed that the Council kept the relevant records and that HR support was available to these staff members as necessary.
(v) A member suggested that specialists in banks providing services to local businesses would have real insight into how many were prepared for when the EU transition period ceased.
(vi) It was suggested that as VAT was only charged on energy prices as an EU regulation there could be potential to lobby the Government to have this charge removed.
(vii) The increases to food prices predicted as part of the national worst-case scenario were expected to be applicable to and as a result of shortages of certain products rather than all products.
[Mr. J. T. Orson JP CC left the meeting at this point and did not return to the meeting]
Risk Management Update
(viii) Corporate Risk 4.2 ‘Environment and Transport (E&T) - If Arriva is successful in its concessionary travel appeals and the method of apportioning between the City and County Councils is changed then reimbursement costs for the total scheme could increase’ had been added to the Corporate Risk Register as Leicester City Council had disputed the apportionment of costs between both councils. Discussions to find a resolution were currently underway.
(ix) Departmental Risk Registers were frequently reviewed and monitored. As part of the risk management process each manager was required to undertake a review of their service risks on a regular basis. Then. in line with the committee cycle Department Management Teams would review their registers and update the Internal Audit Service accordingly to allow the Corporate Risk Register to be reviewed and revised.
(x) In response to a comment raised regarding Corporate Risk 9.4 ‘Environment and Transport (E&T) If climate change impacts happen more frequently or at a greater intensity than anticipated, then there is the risk that County Council services will be negatively affected’, and whether financial implications could be included in the risk, the Director acknowledged that, given the changing environment, inevitably there would be financial implications associated with this risk which would need managing through the risk management process and stated that consideration to the point raised would be given at the next risk review to ensure these implications were reflected in the appropriate risk registers as necessary.
(xi) In response to comments raised by a member regarding the necessity of the Council’s Recycling and Household Waste Site (RHWS) online booking system and whether opening over a longer period during the week and allowing people to visit without booking would be more cost effective, the Director stated that consideration would be given to the point raised at the next risk review. However, the benefits of having the system in place were that the queuing system and volumes of people attending the waste sites, which had also been an issue prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as staff shortages, could now be managed more effectively as the majority of RHWS booking requests (made by the public to visit the sites) were now being picked up online rather than through a call centre. Having the system in place was also helping to ensure compliance with the national (Covid-19) restrictions, manage the flow of waste and mitigate the costs previously identified around traffic management as a reduced number of staff were needed to run the sites.
(xii) Members requested that a presentation be given at the Committee’s next meeting on Corporate Risk 7.3 (If the Adults and Communities Department does not have a sustainable external workforce to work with it may be unable to meet its statutory responsibilities).
(a) That the current status of the strategic risks facing the County Council be approved and the Director of Corporate Resources be requested to give consideration to the comments now made;
(b) That the contents of the presentation provided on Corporate Risk 6.1 ‘EU Transition – If a formal trade agreement between the UK and EU is not in place at the end of the transition period, the UK will be treated by the EU as a third country. Trade arrangements will differ, and goods will be subject to full third country controls and a variety of border checks’ be noted and the Chief Executive be requested to give consideration to the comments now made;
(c) That at the Committee’s next meeting a presentation be provided on Corporate Risk 7.3 (If the Adults and Communities Department does not have a sustainable external workforce to work with it may be unable to meet its statutory responsibilities);
(d) That the updates regarding Covid-19 recovery planning and counter fraud be noted.