Headlines: January 17th, 2008

Poor risk management in both policy making and handling crises is detrimental to the public. Often issues referred to as ‘red tape’ or ‘poor regulation’ are really matters of poorly handled risk. Following a report from the Better Regulation Commission the Prime Minister has appointed the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council as a key part of his drive to improve the way risk to the public – from public health to pensions – is understood and managed.

The new Council will be a catalyst for the change in the way policy is developed. It will take forward the UK’s first ever work programme dedicated to understanding and promoting proportionate responses to public risk, particularly when faced with event-led pressure. Its task will be to develop a better understanding of public risk, and how best to respond to it, through a series of workshops which consider both good and poor practice. It will work with Ministers and civil servants and external stakeholders to
help foster a more considered approach to public risk and policy making. There will also be an involvement with regulators, risk experts, Parliament, lobby groups, the media and the public.

The workshop-centred programmes will focus on specific policy issues and be supported by research, teaching tools and a web-based community of interest. The choice of topics to be addressed over the next year will be finalised after consultation with stakeholders. Topics under consideration at present include obesity, regional regeneration failures, systemic risk aversion in
central and local government and aspects of corporate governance, as well as good practice from the recent approaches to pension issues and the animal disease outbreaks.