After the publication of a report into how well prepared the UK government is to respond to the extreme weather events set out in the National Risk Register, the committee that scrutinises public spending is inviting evidence on how well the public thinks the government is doing in this increasingly important area.
The Public Accounts Committee is accepting evidence until 7 February to help it with its inquiry into whether the government has a clear vision, well defined roles and responsibilities to manage national risks. It also asks whether the government can develop resilience and if it is working at the ‘pace and scale of adaptation to fully prepare the UK for climate risks.’
The inquiry is a response to the National Audit Office published Government Resilience: extreme weather on 6 December 2023. This report examines how well-prepared the country is for future extreme weather events, asking if the government is prepared to respond to or prevent the impact of extreme weather.
There are six recommendations in the report which cover leadership, structures, and strategy including setting out what a resilient UK looks like. Recognising the importance of standards, the report also says that the government should set out a pathway to deliver them. It urges Investment in climate and wider resilience by government as well as setting out the role the private sector has to play in climate change adaptations with encouragement from government departments and the Treasury.
The 60 page report concludes:
“Extreme weather is becoming more frequent and severe. Government needs to increase its focus on reducing these risks and making the system more resilient to the worsening impacts of extreme weather.
“The challenge for government now is how it places sufficient emphasis on prevention and preparedness, making informed decisions about prioritisation to ensure efficient and effective investment in the long-term.”
The Committee’s inquiry will look at central government management of risks rather than local response plans. The inquiry does not cover arrangements in the devolved nations.
Civil servants leading the Resilience Directorate and the COBR unit in the Cabinet Office, the new arrangements since the demise of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, will give oral evidence on 21 February.
Information on how to provide evidence is provided on the inquiry website.
To learn more about how local responders are dealing with extreme weather watch the Emergency Services Times webinar Learning from Exercise Winter Storm and the response to Storm Arwen.