Friday 2 January 2015

Brent Council Risk Register reveals potential impact of the cuts

The Corporate Risk Register is an important document that highlights the risks of Council services not being delivered effectively and the actions taken to overcome that risk.

As the budget is reduced and cuts in staffing take place, as well as out-sourcing of services, it is important to keep an eye on the Register which flags up potential issues.

The full document is available HERE but below I have set out some of the main areas. The wording is from the original, except for the correction of some typos and spelling mistakes, with my comments in red.

Under each heading the risk is set out, the impact, and (in italics)  the most recent action undertaken to reduce the risk:


Lack of External Investment in the Borough

Reduced income receipts from business rates; reduction in housing supply within the borough. Increase in levels of poverty, unemployment and increased levels of deprivation within the borough. 

De-risking  by assisting with planning permissions etc. on behalf of developers; Maintaining dialogue with investors / developers. Reviewing other sources of capital finance.

Inability to deliver enough school capacity through the Schools Capital Programme

Council in breach of its statutory duty. Increasing numbers of children having to be educated out of Borough

Work with Children & Families Dept. to identify alternative education solutions
Scope to identify future funding/grant funding options

Temporary Accommodation demand increases as a result of welfare reforms and lack of access to affordable private rented properties.

Demand led pressures will impact on the temporary accommodations budget

Unable to procure sufficient properties to meet demand from Homeless Households

Adverse Impact on Temporary Accommodation Budget

Implementation of TA Reform Plan. Developing short and longer-term alternatives to high-cost Bed & Breakfast accommodation through interim use of corporate assets and development of new homeless hostel provision. Launch of BHP lettings agency in 2015 and market TA arrangements to landlords through licensing scheme.

Accelerated rollout of Universal Credit

May cause hardship or confusion for customers and additional demand on Benefits team, Customer Service Centre and Benefits Welfare team

Operational phase of Transition  project brought forward following DWP announcement re. acceleration of rollout.  Refocusing of action plan to ensure operational issues and risks identified and mitigated

Inability to deliver new affordable housing in accordance with housing strategy targets

Risk to council's reputation due to residents having to wait longer to be rehoused.         
Increased temporary accommodation levels and costs and increased unmet housing need
May affect councils ability to generate new homes bonus

Production of Housing Investment Plan. Identification of new-build sites on HRA land and on corporate sites. Commissioning further infill and other direct development opportunities and building BHP capacity. Progressing Housing Zone applications to achieve successful designation, and subsequent implementation to accelerate affordable housing supply

Political pressure from local community/ groups affect ability to deliver the  new Willesden Green Cultural Centre to budget and time

Centre not delivered on time will impact on ability to open library/customer services centre in south of borough

Clear lines of communication between R&MP teams, politicians and community
Well planned and executed consultation
Effective PR management

Homelessness demand led pressures will adversely impact on the temporary accommodation budget

Increased cost will impact on the ability of the council to balance its budget

Reduction in the use of high cost temporary accommodation and introduction of new more cost effective contracts to provide temporary accommodation

Infill development delayed and limited availability of further sites for next phase development identified

This will impact upon the numbers of families in B&B and Temporary accommodation and the Council’s ability to reduced it housing waiting lists

Establish resources and expertise to support opportunity and site identification; business case development for relevant corporate sites

Inability to meet government set Carbon & Efficiency savings targets with funding/fines attached

Council having a reduced services budget

Ensure works with Carbon Management Group ensuring data is captured and is of good quality, but that other Departments co-operate, share skills an k knowledge and communicate effectively

Inability to deliver social housing units in line with specified targets

Impacts upon families in TA and on housing waiting lists

Closer links between Housing and Major Projects staff through restructure
Successful delivery of major residential developments

Reduction in number of Empty Property Grant properties brought into use

This will impact upon the numbers of families in B&B and Temporary accommodation and the Councils ability to reduced it housing waiting lists

Refocus programme on smaller units and examine meeting demand for other need groups, Move On and ASC


Major fraud or financial mismanagement in schools

Reputational damage; removal of financial delegation; increase resources required from LA to support school.

Although the audit function is robust - work is being undertaken to ensure that measures are being implemented within schools to ensure financial issues and risks are being addressed.  Several cases have been forwarded to the internal fraud team to investigate any suspicions or mis-accounting or fraudulent behaviour and this is sending a strong message out to all schools.

Vulnerable children not adequately safeguarded

Abuse, Death or injury of vulnerable persons. Reputational damage to Council.

Continuous Monitoring & Development; Safeguarding & Looked After Children Inspection Action Plan; Continued collaboration with relevant agencies.


Adult Social Care Budget insufficient to meet demand specifically increased need ( people living longer with more complex needs ) and changes in legislation ( Care Act, Eligibility for service users and carers)

Failure to deliver a more efficient cost effect service will result in overspending budgets

Changes in ways we deliver services and demand management strategies need to be put into place to protect the council's financial position.  Routine monitoring and reporting arrangements are in place On-going work is required to look at how to deliver the service differently to be able for the department to be able to deal with the projected increase in demand.

Failure to safeguard vulnerable persons (older persons; persons with physical & learning disabilities; mental health, transitional young people and other vulnerable adults) leading and resulting in resulting in abuse, death or injury of vulnerable persons (both in terms of safety and financial abuse)

Abuse, Death or injury of vulnerable persons. Reputational damage to Council

Safeguarding of Adults Teams deal with safeguarding adults issues.  Safer Recruitment; training; Multi-Agency Policies and Procedures for Adults;  ASC Transformation Programme; Reablement. Appointeeships/Deputyship arrangements in place after client needs have been assessed. Good links with  Children & Families and Legal to ensure robust adherence to safeguarding children's policies and procedures. On-going training for staff in relation to safeguarding and constant review of procedures and policies.


Effects of Climate Change not adequately planned for.  Failure to understand and plan to mitigate the impact of and adapt to climate change. 

Negative impact on health & wellbeing of residents.  Increase in energy costs and fees paid to the Environment Agency on Carbon Reduction Commitment Regulations.  Environmental targets not met.  and reputational risks for being at the bottom of the league table.  Increase expenditure to make further adaptations and other levies.

Climate Change Strategy & Action Plan; Travel Plans; Recycling Schemes; Climate Change Pledge; Waste Strategy, Carbon Management Programme and the Council's Green Charter.  (MF’s comment: Some of these action/plans are subject to cuts in the 2015-16 budget proposals)

Increased risk of (Environmental) service difficulties, reputational harm or failure during organisational change through loss of focus, of continuity and knowledge, and of senior management capacity to support services

Service difficulties or failures cause local or widespread concern and reputational harm to the Council

Plan changes carefully and establish clear accountabilites for service delivery during transitions


Successful Judicial Challenge against the authority by way of Judicial Review or other litigation

Reputational risk to the authority and inability to progress with strategic objectives of the organisation; potential cost to the Council if costs order made against the authority

Monitoring process of decision making to include proactive advice on issues such as equality impact analysis and considering how decisions are made, obtain expert advice on key problem issues as required.

Increased volume of employment law cases following increased activity in following employment procedures and taking appropriate action for performance issues

Reputational risk to the authority, risk of tribunal making compensation awards to individuals

Training provided for those undertaking investigations to include training on witness skills, legal advice to be provided to senior managers involved in disciplinary activities

ASSISTANT CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S DEPARTMENT  (MF note – consultation in progress on deletion of this post)

Cuts to ACE dept budgets, estimated at between 20-40%, will affect all corporate teams  and will have a strategic and operational impact on capacity to deliver.

The necessity to deliver savings of up to 40% from the ACE department will inevitably impact on service delivery meaning that planned / proactive corporate services and priority behaviour change programmes may not be delivered. The council's reputation may also suffer due to lack of proactive strategy and press work and no resources to support crisis communications.

All ACE Heads of service will be developing contingency plans for revised service plans that incorporate varying levels of cuts to budgets.
Revised models of delivery will specify what services/posts will be compromised and how statutory services will be maintained.


Anonymous said...

What does "
Political pressure from local community/ groups affect ability to deliver the new Willesden Green Cultural Centre to budget and time" mean? Are they expecting Friends of Kensal Rise to get militant? This sounds insulting to community groups.

Martin Francis said...

I found this puzzling too. I don't think it has anything to do with FKRL but more the local community groups, eg Keep/Make Willesden Green trying to ensure that the promises made about provision at the WGCC are kept. Already it appears that the Brent Council One Stop Shop at the Centre will not be provided. Meanwhile the developer seems to be prioritising the luxury flats rather than the CulturalmCentre.

Anonymous said...

It looks as if Brent's Regeneration Department is preparing the ground to blame local residents who felt, rightly, that the views they expressed in the "consultations" on the Willesden Green proposals were not listened to, for any delay in opening or cut back in services provided at the new Centre.

And what is the suggested "remedy" for this travesty of the truth? Andy Donald is tasked with delivering 'more effective PR'! A better solution would be listening to local people, working with them rather than against them, and not lying to them. Brent will never make progress if the senior officers in charge do not learn from their past mistakes.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why there is a "Legal and Procurement" risk of more Employment Tribunal cases? Still, Brent has plans in place to counter this:

'Training provided for those undertaking investigations to include training on witness skills, legal advice to be provided to senior managers involved in disciplinary activities.'

I note that this training is due to be provided by Fiona Ledden and by Andy Potts, Senior Employment Lawyer. I would have thought that Ms Ledden could do with some training on witness skills herself, judging from the following paragraph (para. 240) from the Employment Tribunal judgement in the Rosemarie Clarke case:

‘With regards to the decision being taken to pursue disciplinary action against the claimant [Ms Clarke], following the termination of her employment, the respondents [Brent Council and Cara Davani] have been unable to state by whom or when that decision was made. Indeed, by the evidence before the tribunal a decision was taken following a meeting between Ms Cleary [a Brent HR Manager] and Ms Ledden [Brent’s Legal Director]. In her oral evidence, Ms Ledden confirmed that Ms Cleary’s role at the meeting was an advisory one only, but also that she, Ms Ledden, had not made the decision either. Ms Ledden could not identify who had made the decision.’

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you and your nitpicking ways, Philip.
Ok, we’ll tweak the wording a little. How about:

'Training provided for those undertaking investigations to include training in lying more convincingly than hitherto achieved, dissimulation advice to be provided to senior managers involved in disciplinary activities’?
That do?

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

'Political pressure from local community/ groups affect ability to deliver...'.

Chilling comment. So much for democracy in Brent. Something to bear in mind in the long run-up to May's general election.

Anonymous said...


Why is this department necessary at all? Isn't the well-reimbursed Chief Exec doing her job?

Unknown said...

Philip is right that this seems to be about preparing the ground to blame residents for the failure of the Willesden Green Cultural Centre project.

The intention was that the Willesden Centre serves as a southern hub to mirror what is provided at the Wembley Civic Centre but this has been downgraded into a second rate service. Already we have had broken promises with the scrapping of the dedicated Customer Services (aka One Stop Shop) contact space, the expansion of which was one of the primary arguments in favour of the entire development.

What was going to be Customer Services space will now be commercially let while Customer Services self-service computers will be placed within the library itself - taking up 165 sqm of what would otherwise be bookself/study space and making a further mockery of claims that "the library will be bigger". Make Willesden Green supporters argued against this at a recent Brent Cabinet meeting but it typically fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile residents who signed up months ago to become "Friends of Willesden Green Cultural Centre" in an attempt to have some influence have heard precisely nothing.

So we are left with 95 unaffordable flats providing a handsome profit for property speculators, a significantly smaller library facility, a large commercial space and no resident input but remember - it's all our own fault.

Anonymous said...

Very dystopian.

Anonymous said...

Well it was only created about a year ago and already disbanded, wanna bet the excuse for keeping her on (CEO) will be the general election in May.. No geting rid...

Anonymous said...

Oh more commercial space, how wonderful. Because there's a huge shortage of commercial units available for let on Willesden High Road....

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you should mention the (still interim) Chief Executive's role as Returning Officer. Even if she is still in post come the General Election in May, at least she won't have the conflict of interests which could have existed if her husband, Tony McNulty, had been selected as the Labour candidate for Brent Central.

However, I do remember reading somewhere about various Brent Executive / Cabinet members tweeting to say that Tony McNulty was actively campaigning with them for Labour in some local election in the past couple of years, so perhaps there has already been a conflict of interests in the Returning Officer's role! But who cares?


Anonymous said...

Getting Access Denied on link to page on web site now. Another blow for our democratic Brent council illusion.

Martin Francis said...

Yes I got the same but then reached document again via agendas. I have amended the link in the article above but here it is again:

Alison Hopkins said...

The Returning Officer in May showed a degree of unfamiliarity and incompetence which was breathtaking. And Brent are totally complacent about the dodginess of some of the things that went on, too.

Anonymous said...

Brent resident's will have to wait longer to be re-housed this is a joke. I was on the councils housing register in 1992 and placed in temporary accommodation, during which time I was moved 7 times across the borough I was eventually permanently housed in 2012. 20 years on the waiting list is hardly Temporary