Andy Owen, Corporate Risk and Insurance Manager, presented the report that provided details of how the Council’s Risk and Opportunity Management arrangements compared against good practice, outlined the current Risk and Opportunity Management activity, the proposals to maintain and improve the practice across the organisation and included the updated Risk and Opportunity Management policy, strategy and framework. Members were referred to the results of the Council’s performance against good practice and some comparison against the model for the years 2011 to 2019. Members were also referred to Appendix 1 which contained a summary of current activity and proposals and Appendix 2 which was the risk and opportunity management policy, strategy and framework document.
Councillor Rice stated that with the Council being £1.2billion in debt and that figure potentially rising to £2billion in 2022/23 questioned how the Corona Virus would put the Council at risk and was the Council’s money safe. Jonathan Wilson stated that it was hard to assess the impact as things were currently fluid but stated the Council’s investments were largely in renewable energy assets such as solar farms which may limit the impact relating to the virus on the Council. The timeframe of those investments were short to medium term with short term of three years and up to a maximum of ten years. That borrowing from the local authority market had been a choice made that dated back to 2010 and the key reason was it provided a cheaper source of finance than say Public Works Loan Board (PWLB). Jonathan Wilson reassured Members that daily monitoring was undertaken, market updates were received from various sources and following discussions in recent months consideration would be undertaken on how much should borrowing was allocated between short or long terms investments. Since 2010 the Council had received a significant financial benefit from the approach.
Councillor Rice also made reference to two large projects in Thurrock the A13 widening and the Stanford Le Hope station and questioned how much the Council has overspent. Jonathan Wilson provided an overview of the current position and stated that large scoped projects would come with some complexities and agreed to provide Councillor Rice with an update outside the committee.
Councillors Collins questioned whether the Council had any PFI loans outstanding to which he was informed there was none.
Councillor C Kent referred to the Risks and Opportunity Management Strategy and questioned if the Council were to be hit by the Corona Virus how quickly the Council would be able to keep on track. Andy Owen stated that executive plans would be put together to mitigate those areas that might hit the Council, working groups would be set up to monitor the situation, business continuity plans were up to date, impact assessments would be undertaken of staff and the Council were seeking guidance from Government on a daily basis.
Councillor Collins questioned the welfare of staff and residents who had to self-isolate due to the Corona Virus. Andy Owen stated that the Health and Safety Risk Assessment would be carried out by managers on their staff. For residents, this would form part of the Adult Social Care business continuity plan. Councillor Rice stated that there was a clear risk for staff and residents and their welfare was vital.
Members discussed Corona Virus at some length and the potential risks that could affect the Council such as local elections and planning committee meetings.
1. That Standards and Audit Committee noted the results of the review the current Risk and Opportunity Management activity and proposals to maintain and improve the practice across the organisation.
2. That Standards and Audit Committee noted and approved the updated Risk and Opportunity Management policy, strategy and framework.