Agenda item

Updated Risk and Opportunity Management Strategy for 2022-2023

To present the Committee with the updated Risk and Opportunity Management Strategy for approval.


The Monitoring Officer provided an introduction to the report: 

·         The Risk and Opportunity Management Strategy was updated annually to ensure it reflected and new and emerging risks.  

·         SWAP, the Council’s internal auditors, recommended that the risk on Fraud and Corruption be made clearer in the strategy as part of their baseline fraud assessment last year so this had been done. It was the duty of all employees of the Council to report suspected fraud. 

·         The economic risks had been impacted by interest rate changes and inflation. Rising inflation had impacted the Council’s supply chains. People shortages and not having enough people to fill job roles was also a risk.  

·         Cyber Security remained a high risk.  

·         The transition to a unitary council for Somerset was included as a strategic risk. There was limited time for all the necessary work as part of the transition to be done and the Council’s resources would need to be maintained.  

·         Human Resource risk had been included due to potential retention issues as part of the transition to a unitary authority as well as there having been lots of job vacancies nationally with not enough people to fill them.  

·         For the environmental risk ecology had been incorporated into the risk.  

·         A risk relating to fraud and corruption had also been added.  


During the debate the following points were raised: 

·         It was raised that potential fraud was quite wide and asked if staff had training on how to identify fraud and a mechanism to report any suspected fraud. The Monitoring Officer responded that several policies in relation to fraud had been brought to the committee and the mechanisms for reporting were included within those. All staff were asked to complete fraud and corruption modules on the e-learning portal and had a deadline in a few months' time to have completed the training by. Discussions were also taking place about training for staff in particular areas within the Council where they were more likely to encounter fraud.  

·         It was asked if example phishing emails were used to ensure staff were aware of what to look out for and what to do or provided with more training or not. The Monitoring Officer responded that they were aware that many staff reported suspected phishing emails to IT but that this was possibly an area for further improvement.  

·         It was asked what the process for monitoring risks was, in particular in relation to the unitary transition. It was responded that key business risks were monitored at a monthly performance board within Somerset West and Taunton Council and reports including key business risks went to Corporate Scrutiny Committee and the Executive Committee. Regarding unitary risks more work need to be done to monitor these risks, but this was something officers were mindful of and working on.   

·         It was raised that there were two separate local plans for Somerset West and Taunton Council, one for Taunton Deane and one for West Somerset and concerns were raised that there would be numerous separate local plans for the new Somerset Council. The Monitoring Officer responded that Local Plans took around two years to create due to the amount of work involved. Creating a joint Local Plan would be part of the work which would continue beyond Vesting Day.  

·         It was raised that creating a single Local Plan may take longer than two years. Following the creation of a single Local Plan there could then be a single set of rules for planning applications across the area of Somerset Council. It was responded by the Monitoring Officer that work had already started on this and upon ensuring that terms of reference were in place for the new authority for planning, licensing and other functions.  


The Committee resolved to approve the recommendation in the report:  

2.1 The Committee approve the updated Risk and Opportunity Management Strategy (Appendix A) for the 2022/23 financial year. 


Supporting documents: