Delivering on a risk management vision

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Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council’s Partnership with RMP Risk Control Provides Impetus to their Risk Management Journey

When it comes to managing our organisations risks we would all love to have objectives that are clear and consistent and we would spend our time developing, implementing and fine tuning our control plans to bring about improvement, rather than constantly reacting to changes of direction and unexpected incidents. However, with ever busier lives, limited resources and the era of commercialisation arriving, the reality for many Public Sector Risk Managers often seems dominated by the less favourable latter scenario.

When Laura Williams joined Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council late in 2016 to lead the Risk and Audit Service (incorporating Audit, Insurance, Business Continuity and Emergency Planning along with Health and Safety) she was inheriting some very experienced and capable people, but they had not been a single unified team and so lacked a shared vision and purpose.

Laura quickly set about updating the Corporate Risk Management policy and securing the support of senior management team for a plan to reinvigorate risk management across the authority. Realising resources were somewhat inadequate to move plans forward, a meeting with her team leaders was called with an invitation extended to the council’s insurance brokers and RMP Risk Control.

For a number of years Sefton had not fully exploited the risk control consultancy offering provided by RMP, so this left Laura’s new team with an accrued resource to supplement and assist in the delivery of their risk agenda. In conjunction with RMP, an extensive 18 month programme comprising of more than a dozen training workshops was developed and delivered to raise the profile of Risk and Health and Safety Management across the organisation. Over 180 council employees have participated in activities ranging from short workshops on Fire and Premises Safety Management in Schools, Incident Investigation and Event Risk Management etc. while 58 people gained recognised formal qualifications in either Health and Safety or Risk Management from undertaking one of the externally approved courses.

The following is what Laura had to say about some elements of the programme and the benefits of engaging with RMP Risk Control:

“The Risk Control days have given us the opportunity to access high quality training and professional services within an existing contract. This removes the procurement worries that normally relate to sourcing training, and means that we can plan ahead easily to suit our timescales. Because the training is additional to our corporate training programme, it gives us the luxury of being able to bolster existing plans to fill specific gaps with training that meets our specific risk management needs. The training is also free at the point of delivery, which reduces impact on budgets and helps to encourage attendance.

The choice of training and services offered is excellent, and the big plus point for us has been the high level of tailoring of the training offered – it’s not just “off the shelf” – we are able to tailor this to suit our needs. The other benefit is that with each course delivered, so increases the trainer’s knowledge of the organisation, which makes it easier and assists further in tailoring to our needs. Even where the course is accredited and so the content is less flexible, the trainer has been able to make the material relevant by reference to Sefton’s policies. The knowledge and professional credentials of the trainers is superb, and with this comes a real desire to work with the organisation, rather than just being a “deliver training and run” approach. It feels like a real partnership. In Sefton, we have been seeking to develop our corporate arrangements in risk management, and the access to a professional who can deliver this has been invaluable. It has contributed hugely to the corporate understanding of risk and its embedding in the organisation. It is difficult to relate this to a reduction in claims at this stage, but a heightened awareness of risk and improved risk management arrangements must be positive and I hope that we will see a claims reduction in the future as a result. With the recent developments in local government, budget pressures and increased commercial activity, it is more important than ever that we are risk aware, and able to increase our appetite for risk in a measured and conscious way that protects the Council’s reputation.

In particular, the Events Planning course helped to increase the knowledge of managing the risks associated with events and gave the teams involved further confidence in planning successful events within Sefton. The fleet review also generated many useful recommendations, which were used by the service to develop its fleet management arrangements.”

While working in partnership with RMP Risk Control has clearly accelerated the progress of Sefton MBC along their risk management journey, there is still much to do to fully embed it within the organisational culture, but with their continued vision, commitment and trust there is no reason why further improvement can’t be achieved.

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