Preparing Scotland: Scottish Guidance on Preparing for Emergencies

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06 Promotion of Business Continuity Management by Local Authorities

Summary

As "relevant responders" Scottish local authorities must provide advice and assistance for those undertaking commercial activities and for voluntary organisations in their communities, in relation to business continuity management ( BCM) in the event of an emergency as defined by the Act.

Local authorities:

  • must provide general BCM advice and assistance;
  • may provide specific advice and assistance to individual organisations;
  • may provide advice and assistance to individual organisations regarding the engagement of business continuity consultants;
  • may determine their voluntary sector audience, targeting effort where it will add most value, as not all voluntary organisations would want or benefit from advice;
  • may charge for the cost of providing advice and assistance on a cost recovery basis;
  • must have regard to relevant Community Risk Registers in its BCM activity;
  • may enter into collaborative arrangements with other local responders to fulfil their duties;
  • must co-operate with other local authorities in its Police area, in performing BCM duties. Other Category 1 and Category 2 responders must co-operate with local authorities; and
  • must have regard to BCM advice and assistance provided by other local responders in its Police area.

Business continuity management - advice and assistance to business and voluntary organisations

6.1 The duty to give advice and assistance to business and voluntary organisations in relation to business continuity management ( BCM) is an integral part of the Act. 1 It makes a contribution to building the UK's resilience to disruptive challenges. The duty falls on local authorities alone. Local authorities are "relevant responders" in Scotland. 2

6.2 In the event of emergency Category 1 responders will give all the assistance they can but there is merit in ensuring that communities themselves are resilient. In particular it is important to ensure that the impact of an emergency on the continuity of commercial and voluntary organisations' functions is kept to a minimum. This should help reduce the economic and social impact of emergencies and may assist recovery by ensuring that others, who may have a part to play, are prepared.

6.3 The BCM duty is closely related to other duties in the Act and should not be seen as a stand-alone duty. Maintaining and exercising business continuity plans and emergency plans may require close liaison with organisations that carry out commercial or voluntary activities. There are clear synergies between this work and the duty to give BCM advice and assistance, in many ways it is a logical extension of the work.

6.4 There is also a strong relationship with the warning and informing duty that requires Category 1 responders to publish aspects of risk assessments and contingency plans and to maintain arrangements to issue advice, information and warnings in the event of an emergency. The duty to give BCM advice and assistance complements that work.

The nature and extent of the duty

6.5 Local authorities have the duty to provide advice and assistance to local businesses and voluntary organisations in connection with business continuity management.

6.6BCM is a flexible framework designed to help organisations develop resilience to the full spectrum of events. However, the Act imposes a duty on local authorities to give advice and assistance to business and voluntary organisations on developing arrangements to deal with a much narrower range of events and situations that it defines as emergencies. The duty does not extend to the wider range of day-to-day events that can threaten an organisation.

6.7 A key objective of the BCM duty is to raise the awareness of local commercial and voluntary organisations of the practical emergency planning arrangements put in place by local responders. Local authorities are particularly well placed to give advice and assistance in preparing for events or situations whose scale and impact require the implementation of emergency arrangements.

6.8 Local authorities must provide general advice for businesses in its area and may provide such advice for voluntary organisations as it deems appropriate. 3

6.9 Individual businesses and voluntary organisations might seek further specific advice in which case the local authority may:

  • provide that advice; or
  • provide advice and assistance on identifying and engaging a business continuity consultant.

6.10 The duty relates in part to commercial activities. 4 "Commercial" is not a straightforward term to define. It should not be taken narrowly to mean only private sector businesses operating for a profit. Others, including charities, building societies and credit unions, carry out commercial activities, they operate as businesses, generate financial benefits and should be considered in performing the duty.

6.11 Providing business continuity advice to voluntary organisations 5 will help build the resilience of the wider community. However, the voluntary sector is large and diverse and it is unrealistic to expect local authorities to provide advice and assistance for all organisations. When deciding how to prioritise when taking forward a programme for advice and assistance, local authorities may need to take decisions about which voluntary organisations to approach and where to target resources.

6.12 The local authority is permitted to determine its target audience within the voluntary sector. 6 In so doing, local authorities should have regard to a range of factors including the voluntary organisations:

  • role in relation to emergencies;
  • contribution to the effective functioning of the community;
  • economic importance; and
  • place of business.

6.13 The duty to provide BCM advice and assistance only applies for those who undertake activity in the local authority area. The duty extends to activities that operate in the area for a period of time without being resident, for example, music festivals or major construction projects.

General advice and assistance

6.14 Local authorities have a duty to provide general advice and assistance regarding the benefits of adopting BCM arrangements and to disseminate information to assist the business continuity planning process.

6.15 Whilst the Act imposes a duty on local authorities to offer advice and assistance it does not impose a corresponding obligation on the recipients to act upon it.

6.16 In complying with the duty, local authorities must demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to promote BCM advice in their areas. This will involve developing a strategy that:

  • identifies what organisations need to know;
  • selects appropriate means of delivery; and
  • targets its message at its audience.

Specific advice and assistance

6.17 Local authorities are permitted to provide specific advice and assistance on BCM for local organisations. 7 The Act does not oblige them to do so. A local authority can undertake the work itself if it feels it possesses the necessary experience and competence.

6.18 A Local authority could work with individual organisations to establish the nature of the risks they face and the steps they can take to manage them. This might include, for example:

  • assistance with risk assessment;
  • provision of advice about Category 1 responders' response arrangements; and
  • support in the development and validation of plans.

6.19 Local authorities should consider their professional liability in the specific advice and assistance it may offer or its part in referring organisations to a BCM consultant.

Assistance related to engaging third party advice

6.20 Alternatively, the local authority may give advice and assistance to individual organisations to facilitate the engagement of a business continuity consultant, which may be better placed to provide the support required. However, undertaking this work is discretionary and is not a requirement of the regulations.

6.21 Outside large organisations, most of the people responsible for business continuity are not professionals and may require guidance when purchasing business continuity advice, services or facilities.

6.22 Where it chooses to go down this path, the local authority must remain impartial and take steps to ensure firms are aware of the criteria suggested for selecting a service provider. For example, professional qualifications/certification, membership of a professional body, experience in relevant aspects of BCM, track record and adequate professional indemnity.

Co-operation and identification of a lead responder

6.23 The duty to promote BCM falls on all local authorities. They must co-operate with each other in their Police area in connection with performing their BCM duties. 8 The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that local authorities within a Police area deliver a coherent programme for providing advice and assistance for commercial and voluntary organisations in their communities.

6.24 Other Category 1 and Category 2 responders in a Police area must co-operate with local authorities in connection with performing their BCM duties. 9

6.25 Co-operation may take place bilaterally or within a single forum perhaps through the auspices of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group.

6.26 There are a number of options open to local authorities in deciding how best to discharge their responsibility:

  • they may perform the duty themselves;
  • they may, by agreement, identify a lead responder from the local authorities within their Police area; 10 or
  • they may make arrangements with another local authority for the joint performance of a duty or for a duty to be performed on its behalf. 11

6.27 The permissive approach gives local authorities the flexibility to decide how to make the best use of the skills, expertise, networks and resources available in a Police area. Working collaboratively could help ensure that efforts are co-ordinated and that economies of scale are achieved. However, it remains the responsibility of each authority to ensure that its duties are fulfilled.

6.28BCM promotion programmes should be driven by the needs of local organisations not local authorities' administrative boundaries. It is important to deliver co-ordinated messages with promotional or awareness-raising work across the Police area. Local authorities should consider the need to adopt a coherent approach in the provision of specific advice and assistance where this is requested.

6.29 Category 1 and Category 2 responders will also be expected to co-operate with Category 1 responders outside their Police area and across UK administrative borders, in the performance of their duties to promote BCM. 12

Co-ordination with other local responders' business continuity activity

6.30 The duty to promote BCM falls on local authorities but this does not mean that other local responders do not have an interest in the activity.

6.31 A number of other responders are also engaged in BCM promotion. For example, the police support the activity in relation to security issues, the Fire Service does so in relation to fire risks and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in relation to safety at sea.

6.32 Local authorities must have regard to the business continuity activities undertaken by other responders. 13 In practice this means that local authorities are required to develop an awareness of the business continuity work of their partners and consider the implications for their own programmes. They should also consider how their programmes can complement other. The Regulations provide that local authorities need not unnecessarily duplicate the activity of other responders.

Risk assessment

6.33 In performing its duty the local authority must "have regard" to the Community Risk Register when developing a business continuity promotion programme. 14 It may also be necessary to consider risks outside the Police area that could impact upon businesses in a local authority area - for example, a chemical plant in a neighbouring Police area. Hence the Regulations require local authorities to have regard to "any relevant risk register".

Charging

6.34 The Regulations permit local authorities to charge for any advice and assistance provided by them but does not oblige them to do so. 15

6.35 It is unlikely that local authorities will be able to charge for promotional materials or awareness-raising materials supplied for organisations at large. However, local authorities may wish to make a charge for a number of activities including:

  • attendance at local authority organised events;
  • membership of Business Continuity Forums;
  • provision of specific information (for example, aspects of risk assessments);
  • provision of advice on an ad hoc basis (for example, development or review of firms' own plans); and
  • provision of a professional BCM service.

6.36 Local authorities may only charge for BCM advice and assistance on a cost-recovery basis. They may charge for the full cost of all the resources used in carrying out activities for which a charge is to be made and a reasonable share of any research or documentation that support the activity. The regulations do not permit local authorities to make a profit from the promotion of BCM.

6.37 Further guidance on charging policy can be found in the Scottish Executive's Public Finance Manual - Fees and Charges (see www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/finance). However, local authorities should consider the impact of their charging policy on the adoption of their advice and assistance.