National Resilience: preparing for future challenges

At a speech at RUSI on 13 July, The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Paymaster General, launched a call for evidence on a national resilience strategy. Ideas were invited from all quarters on the scale, scope and content of the strategy which was announced in the Integrated Review (IR) in March.

In her introduction, the Minister gave a powerful and persuasive case for greater resilience across the UK, and outlined the actions that the government was taking. It was acknowledged that Covid-19 had challenged us to build resilience into the everyday and to create a resilience agenda. Measures should stamp on disparities and empower everyone to help levelling up, combining both local and national perspectives but with the local tier at the heart. As the IR has stated, it should be a ‘whole-of-society’ approach. This would be necessary if we are to be ready to face worse disruptions than those experienced in the current pandemic.

It was emphasised that we would need to develop better situational awareness in order to enhance preparedness, build resilience into investment decisions and management choices, and instil better leadership in order to co-ordinate responses more fully.

Announcing the government’s plans to improve national resilience, the Minister mentioned:

  • Ongoing work to design and implement a National Resilience Strategy, as detailed in the IR.
  • The launch this summer of a National Situation Centre in the Cabinet Office to provide live data and rapid analysis, supporting collaboration across government and informing crisis decision-making.
  • The first meeting of the National Resilience Forum in w/c 12 July.
  • The launch this summer of a new National Emergency Alerting System to the general public using mobile phones.
  • A new national cyber strategy to help tackle ransomware and other pernicious threats.
  • ‘Standing up a Civil Defence Force’.

The resilience strategy would have three main themes: (i) a better understanding of risks (ii) more investment in preparation and (iii) energise and empower everyone who can contribute. There would be six thematic actions to address meaningful change for long-term resilience:

  • Focus on community resilience. (An emphasis on community resilience delivered through LRFs would be important.)
  • Emphasis on overall capabilities and a broadening of the approach.
  • Importance of early investment.
  • Emphasis on the role of reserves and volunteers.
  • Partnerships with business and academia.
  • Building resilience in global networks.

There will no doubt more to be said and done on this topic but government is clearly motivated to grasp the resilience nettle and make the country more prepared for future shocks. Success will ultimately be measured in outcomes.

Author: Robert Hall, Research and Programme Co-ordinator, National Preparedness Commission