LEICESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL RISK MANAGEMENT POLICY STATEMENT

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1 106 LEICESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL RISK MANAGEMENT POLICY STATEMENT Leicestershire County Council believes that managing current and future risk, both opportunity and threat, is increasingly vital to the business of local government. It is therefore Council policy to adopt a proactive approach to the management of all risks that impact on its strategies, operations and the achievement of its objectives. A certain amount of risk is necessary and unavoidable, but this can be a positive force in the development of services that we provide. However, risks need to be managed and maintaining an effective system of risk management will enable the County Council to: Safeguard our clients, service users, employees, Members, pupils and all other persons to whom the Council has a duty of care. Ensure and improve statutory compliance. Protect our property, including buildings, equipment, vehicles and all other assets and resources. Maintain effective and efficient control of public funds. Support the quality of the environment. Uphold and promote its reputation as a community leader, service provider and employer. Secure trust from our stakeholders and partners through transparent and open management. Minimise our vulnerability to fraud and corruption. Deliver Value for Money. How successful we are in mitigating the risks we face can have a major impact on the achievement of our key objectives and service delivery. Achievement of objectives will be supported by applying the County Council s Risk Management Strategy - this strategy outlines responsibilities for managing risks and defines how risk management should be applied across the County Council.

2 107 INTRODUCTION LEICESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY Leicestershire County Council recognises that we live in an uncertain world, where the people, environment and communities of Leicestershire maybe at risk. All organisations face a wide variety of risks including physical risks to people or property, financial loss, failure of service delivery, information management and damage to the organisation's reputation. There is also the potential for events and outcomes to give rise to opportunities for benefits. Risk for this purpose is defined as "the chance of something happening that will have an impact (positive or negative) on the achievement of objectives". Risk management is a statutory requirement and a framework by which the Council can identify, assess, evaluate, treat, monitor and communicate risks, (both threats and opportunities) in a robust, systematic and documented way. The benefits gained in managing risk are improved strategic, operational and financial management, continuity of knowledge, improved statutory compliance, meeting best practice and ultimately improving services. The traditional means of protecting against the more obvious risks has been through insurance. However, there are many risks which cannot be insured against and which must be addressed in different ways. Even in the case of those risks which are insurable, action can be taken to reduce the potential risks with consequent savings of premiums and disruption of work. The County Council s Code of Corporate Governance sets out a requirement to ensure that an effective risk management system is in place. The Cabinet has agreed a policy statement on its approach to risk management and this strategy is intended to provide a basis on which that approach will be put into effect. The risk management strategy aims to:- Establish clear roles, responsibilities and reporting lines for identifying and managing risks Ensure that an appropriate level of risk management is consistently applied across the Council Increase awareness and reinforce the importance of effective risk management through shared learning of best practice and experience Embed risk management processes into the normal business and culture of the County Council, so that risk management occurs at all levels, not just at a corporate level.

3 108 ELEMENTS OF THE STRATEGY Leadership and Responsibility Given the diversity of Council services and the wide range of potential risks, it is essential that responsibility for identifying and taking action to address potential risks is clear. The framework of roles and responsibilities in Appendix (i) shows how these are allocated. Role and Composition of the Corporate Risk Management Group As the County Council provides numerous different services, with differing circumstances, it is inevitably exposed to a wider variety of risks within individual service areas/departments. Therefore it is essential there is some consistency in the way that risks are identified, assessed and monitored throughout the various service areas, as this helps to ensure that all areas of risk are adequately considered and relative priorities for action can be judged. The establishment of a Corporate Risk Management Group has provided this consistency of approach because it creates a link between service managers, specialised groups dealing with particular areas of risk, senior management and Members. The group includes representatives from all departments, who are also the risk coordinators for their department, as well as including other officers with responsibilities for particular areas of risk management. Members of the group represent the interests and views of all departments/service areas in developing and maintaining a corporate approach to risk management issues. The terms of reference and membership of the Corporate Risk Management Group are attached in Appendix (ii). Role of the Corporate Governance Committee The Corporate Governance Committee was established in 2005 and is responsible for ensuring that an adequate risk management framework and associated control environment exists within the Council. The Committee also ensures that arrangements in place for the identification, monitoring and management of strategic and operational risks. To provide the Committee with the necessary information to undertake these responsibilities, regular progress updates on all risk management initiatives, including the Corporate Risk Register are reported at Committee meetings.

4 109 Involvement of Other Internal Related Groups There are several other officer groups in existence which deal with specific areas of risk management. These include the Buildings Risk Management Group and the Corporate Resilience Planning Group. These groups are represented on the Corporate Risk Management Group so that their work can be coordinated with the overall management of the risks facing the Council. In addition to the groups listed above, the Council s Internal Audit section also contributes to the management of risk. The work of Internal Audit is based on a needs and risk assessment process that identifies and focuses resources on higher risk areas. Audit findings are reported to the relevant Chief Officer and Service Manager together with recommendations for improvement and an action plan. Checks are undertaken by Internal Audit to ensure agreed recommendations are implemented. External Contacts The potential risks faced by the Council are in many cases similar to those faced by other authorities and it is practical and cost effective to learn from the experience of others. In order to share risk management information and experiences, the Council has established networks with other authorities and agencies. Specifically, the Council is a member of the East Midlands Risk Managers Group. This group, whose members include various local authorities from the midlands area, meets three times a year to discuss risk management issues that are common to all authorities and to share examples of best practice. LINKS TO CORPORATE PROCESSES Risk management has clear links to other corporate processes - the following, details some examples of processes which further embed risk management into the culture of the council. Service Delivery Plans & Risk Registers Departmental Service plans contain a risk assessment/register, which identifies any risks linked to the delivery of the priorities contained in their plan. Corporate and departmental risk registers are maintained of the key strategic and operational risks, together with details of mitigating actions and risk owners. The Corporate Risk Register, as well as departmental risk registers will be reviewed regularly and reported to Corporate Governance Committee and Departmental Management Team, respectively.

5 110 Projects and Change Management programmes The County Council has adopted PRINCE2 methodology for the successful conduct of all project based activities. Risk management issues are addressed at the commencement of the project planning process and continuously reviewed at all development stages. By addressing project risks appropriately, the Council is able to take full advantage of the business opportunities that may arise from successful project management. Partnership Working Many of the services the council provides are done so in partnership with external organisations, hence service delivery through partnership working will be risk assessed at the outset and documented. Risk management considers governance issues and risks relating to all partnerships and to that effect the Council obtains assurance about the management of these risks. The Council understands and manages the organisational risks regarding partnership activities as well as risks in the partnership itself. A guidance note and Partnership Checklist has been produced to outline the Council s approach to assessing partnerships and is available on the intranet. It explains the steps that should be taken to assess risks before the decision is made to enter into a partnership and also how to undertake ongoing monitoring of risks once a partnership has been established. Fraud and Corruption The County Council is set against fraud and corruption and is committed to an effective Anti Fraud and Corruption Strategy. An anti fraud and corruption work plan has been produced and will be undertaken to ensure a zero tolerance approach to fraud and corruption. Identification and addressing the risk of fraud and corruption are a key element within this risk management strategy. Reports Reports to Committees contain risk assessments, to support strategic policy decisions. The Council s risk management methodology should be followed to produce these risk assessments and a summary of the findings given in reports to Members. A guidance note is available on the Council s intranet, which explains how risk should be presented in reports to Members. METHODOLOGY A methodology for identifying, assessing and managing risk within the Council has been developed. This methodology has the advantage of being relatively straightforward to use and can be applied to both the strategic risks of the Council and as part of the routine service and project planning processes.

6 111 Guidance for managers on the application of the risk management methodology has been produced and is updated on an annual basis. This guidance is distributed to managers to assist with risk assessing departmental and section service plan objectives. The guidance is also available on the Council's intranet. WORK PLANS The development of a consistent, corporate approach to risk management needs to be done in a methodical and proportionate way in order to avoid unnecessary burden at all levels. To ensure that risk management is handled in the most efficient way within the Council, work plans to implement the risk management strategy have been produced at both departmental and corporate level. The aim of these work plans is to provide a structured logical approach to implementing risk management and to act as a checklist to be reviewed throughout the year. The work plans are reviewed on a regular basis and updated annually to reflect any new risk management requirements and to ensure that risk management is being implemented in the most effective way.

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