Self Assessment Toolkit for the Public Sector

National Audit Office lauches Self Assessment tools for Local Authorities

The Civil Contingencies Act supports the promotion of greater resilience among public agencies and the wider local community.

The Act makes now an appropriate time for authorities to review current arrangements. It promotes business continuity as well as emergency planning, recognising that preparedness is an issue for the whole local authority and the businesses within the area. There is no preferred structure for delivering the services covered by the bill. Much will depend on local issues (for example local hazards such as the number of COMAH sites; the internal arrangements of the local authority regarding risk management and links between emergency planning, risk and business continuity arrangements.)

Authorities also need to contribute to local multi-agency strategic work and to the development of regional and national agendas. Business/service continuity arrangements are an issue for all services. In areas of joint arrangements many specific emergency planning responsibilities lie with the responsible or contracted authority.

However, all authorities need clarity about who would be responsible for responding to an internal or external emergency on behalf of the authority; effective arrangements for contacting those people, including out of hours; and a clear system for control and communication during emergencies. Individuals who may form any emergency response team are likely to benefit from appropriate training. The effectiveness of arrangements can only be reviewed and validated through regular exercises. Reviews and learning based on those exercises and on actual incidents in an authority, or in other authorities, can then feed into improvements.

In June 2004 the Forum started to provided Local Authorities and other groups with the resources and expertise to run and manage a variety of Business Continuity events around the whole of the UK designed to boost awareness and connect with local businesses.

Russell Price, Chairman of the Continuity Forum, commenting on this announcement from the NAO says: “The importance of effective Emergency Planning and BCM within our local Authorities is clear and the CCA first time places clear responsibilities on the public sector to ensure that both their own BCM plans are effective and that local business are encouraged to adopt BCM to boost local resilience to disruption events. We are commited to support Local Authorities with this work and have already supported a nuimber of initiatives around the UK. ANY Regional or Local group needing support, assistance or guidance can contact us and we'll help develop Materials, Guidance and even local Events to promote BC both internally and externally.”

The Continuity Forum is providing an extensive range of free support services to assist UK authoroities develop the awareness and proactive planning and management in a wider range of businesses across the UK. Our Guidance has been developed in conjunction with a number of Local Authorities and is completely NON commercial in nature, thereby fully meeting the needs of the PUBLIC Sector whilst not compromising on the either the quality or content of the advice and support. The Bill makes it clear that there is a duty on Local Authorities to engage with Business for the promotion of Business Continuity Planning and recognises the role that independent groups can offer in this space. The Continuity forum is once again leading the way by bringing information and knowledge on the issues to a new audience enabling a greater level of National awareness and importantly, support for both the Local Businesses and the Authorities.

The programme has already started with a very successful event, held in conjunction with the Corporation of London during June, and will now rollout to other parts of the UK in the second half of 2004. All feedback received has been excellent and we are now confident that with the Local Authority sector and the Continuity Forum working in Union we can bring the beneifits of BCM many more organisations across the country and improve the quality of both planning and local liaison

You can download the checklist and link to the site directly from the Forum library and download area (members only)

For more information or to join the programme please contact the Continuity Forum directly on 020 8993 1599 or [email protected] If you have any questions please do contact us at the Continuity Forum, you can either mail us on [email protected] or call us on 020 8993 1599.