Skip to main content

How do we ensure the UK is resilient to extreme risks and emergencies?

23 December 2020

The House of Lords Committee on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning publishes its call for evidence, inviting the public to provide their views on how we can ensure that the UK is as resilient to extreme risks and emergencies as possible.

The dealine for submissions is 4pm Thursday 28 January 2021

The inquiry

The Risk Assessment and Risk Planning Committee will be looking at hazard-related risks to the United Kingdom which have the potential to cause significant human, economic, environmental and infrastructure damage. These include events such as flooding, heatwaves and global pandemics.

The Committee will look at a wide range of issues including:

  • The national risk identification and assessment process
  • Governmental risk ownership
  • Planning for emergencies
  • Emerging and unknown risks
  • International co-operation

Committee Chair

Lord Arbuthnot, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The UK is at risk from a multitude of hazards, some of which could change life as we know it. We need to know what these risks are; we need to prevent what we can; and we need to plan for the arrival of those we cannot prevent.

“Covid-19 has been a wake-up call and a reminder that events on a mega scale can happen with minimal warning. We cannot be complacent and need to do all we can to prevent these threats and enhance our resilience if the worst happens.”


The Committees call for evidence asks the following questions:

  1. What are the most significant extreme risks that the UK faces? Are these kinds of risks discrete, linked or systemic? What do you understand the term ‘extreme risk’ to mean?  
  2. Are there types of risks to which the UK is particularly vulnerable or for which it is poorly prepared? What are the reasons for this?
  3. How could the Government’s approach to risk assessment be strengthened to ensure that it is rigorous, wide-ranging and consistent? Your answer could refer to any aspect of the risk assessment process including, for example, its governance, the evidence base, or the degree to which it is open to scrutiny and the input of experts.
  4. Given the range of possible national risks, and the need to achieve a balance between efficiency and resilience, what level of assurance should the Government be seeking on the UK’s resilience to hazards? What would effective national risk management achieve, and how could its success be measured?
  5. How can the Government ensure that it identifies and considers as wide a range of risks as possible? What risks does the inclusion criteria for the National Security Risk Assessment exclude and what effect does this have on long-term resilience?
  6. How effectively do current ways of characterising risks (for example, the use of a five-point scoring system of a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’) support evidence-based policy decisions? What other information would be useful?
  7. How effectively do Departments mitigate risks? Does the Risk Assessment process and the Civil Contingencies Secretariat adequately support Government departments to address risks within their remits? Is further oversight or accountability required, and if so, what form should that take?
  8. How well are national contingency plans communicated to and understood by those at a local level, including emergency responders? What could be changed to increase the capability of local responders to effectively plan for and respond to emergencies?
  9. What is the role of the individual in relation to national crises? Are there potential benefits in increasing public involvement and transparency in emergency planning? What limitations are there to this? What lessons have been learnt or should have been learnt about the approach taken to risk assessment and risk planning in this country from the COVID-19 pandemic?
  10. What challenges are there in developing resilience capability? Your answer could refer to critical infrastructure, but also to systems and networks beyond those elements. What is the role of exercising to test risk preparedness, and are these methods utilised effectively in risk assessment and risk planning in this country?
  11. What can be learnt from local or corporate risk management processes, or those of other countries? Are there any specific examples of practices, processes or considerations which could improve the UK’s national risk resilience? How could businesses and civil society more effectively support national resilience preparation?
  12. What individual or economic behaviours would strengthen national resilience against hazards, and what mechanisms are open to the Government or society to incentivise these behaviours? How should we prioritise any changes required in approach, process or policy needed to improve risk mitigation and strengthen the UK’s resilience to extreme risks and emergencies?

Further information