Corporate Risk Register
This report provides an update on the Council’s Risk Management position and includes an updated Corporate Risk Register.
Michael Bradley, Head of Audit and Investigations, introduced the report providing an update on the Council’s Risk Management position and Corporate Risk Register.
In considering the report the Committee noted:
· Departmental management teams had carried out a review and reassessment of their risk registers, which had been designed to ensure that operational and strategic risks identified within departments were effectively managed;
· The main changes to the corporate risk register, which contained those risks considered to be of the highest potential impact and likelihood of materialising and that would have on adverse effect on the achievement of corporate objectives. The key changes had involved a reassessment and update of risks and actions identified taking account of the ongoing pandemic and removal of the financial pressures arising from Covid 19 pandemic risks, which had now been incorporated within other risks. In response to a query members were advised that these risks were being actively managed with further detail on these changes to be provided as part of the next Corporate Risk Register update;
· The new risks which had been identified in relation to the delay in re-procurement of key public realm services and an increase in the Dedicated School Grant High Needs Block Deficit.
The Committee was then invited to raise questions on the report, which are summarised below:
· Details were sought on how regularly departmental risk registers would be subject to review and update. In response members were advised that whilst there was no specific requirement in terms of the frequency of reviews departments were encouraged to ensure their departmental registers were kept under ongoing review and updated as required.
· In response to a query regarding the impact of Brexit on the number of school pupils and places and associated levels of funding, members were advised that a response would need to be sought outside of the meeting.
· Further details was also sought on the level of risk associated with the increased threat identified in relation to cyber attacks on the Council’s IT systems. In response, members were advised of the heightened security risk level as a result of a number of attacks on other Council’s, including the significant issues experienced at Hackney. Within Brent this had led to the implementation of a number of additional controls, with a specific focus on IT Backup solutions. In support of further mitigating measures the Council had also approved over £10m worth of investment in its IT Shared Service infrastructure roadmap. As a result of the issues identified members advised they would be keen for a further update to be provided as part of the next Corporate Risk Register update on the specific action being taken in response to the cyber security threats identified. Members were also advised of the planned inclusion of cyber security within the programme of internal audit activity.
· Given the potential impact of any changes in the levels of inflation and interest rates a query was raised regarding the way Council finances were subject to stress testing around these issues. In response members were advised how interest rates were tracked and kept under constant review as part of the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy.
· In response to a query regarding how strategic action being taken in response to the climate emergency was reflected within the Corporate Risk Register members were advised how this activity was being co-ordinated through the Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy. Members noted that the strategy had not yet been included on the audit programme but as activity was progressed it was anticipated any risks would be picked up as part of the relevant departmental risk registers.
· Members also sought further detail on the new risk identified in relation to the impact of the increase in deficit on the High Needs Block within the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). It was noted that the current deficit on the DSG totalled £10.5m as a result of the ongoing pressure on the High Needs Block. Whilst the Government had provided additional funding this had not been sufficient to address the growth in demand and as a result Brent had developed its own management plan and set of mitigating actions to address the pressure being experienced and in an effort to start recovering the cumulative deficit. A summary of these actions had been detailed with the Corporate Risk Register and whilst noting that this was a national rather than Brent specific issue members noted it was likely the cumulative deficit would increase prior to any reduction being achieved as a result of the measures identified. In support of the concerns identified Paul Dossett (Grant Thornton) highlighted the challenging nature of the issue and risks needing to be addressed from an audit and budgetary perspective, which he pointed out would also require a co-ordinated policy and funding approach from the Department for Education. Councillor McLennan in highlighting the work already undertaken by the Council in seeking to address and mitigate the issues and risks identified reemphasised that this remained a challenge for all local authorities and was one of the key issues which the London Local Authority finance leads were also seeking to address with the DfE.
· As a final query, details were sought on the way in which the issues previously raised around the Brent Pension Fund liabilities had been reflected as a risk. In response, members were advised that any issues or risks identified in relation to the Pension Fund would be included as part of the Finance Departmental Risk Register.
The Chair thanked officers for the report and information provided at the meeting and it was RESOLVED to note the current Corporate Risk Register and associated heat map, as detailed within Appendix 1 of the report.
- 11. Corporate Risk Management Report, item 11. PDF 163 KB
- 11a. Appendix 1 - Corporate Risk Register, item 11. PDF 930 KB