London Resilience Partnership report on Brexit
London Resilience Partnership has published a report ahead of the Brexit meeting today. It’s here https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/london_resilience_partnership_-_brexit_resilience_report.pdf
Here are the key quotes and added some commentary:
“for many [resilience partner organisations] the resilience summit itself was a first step or very early phase in their contingency planning.”
- There is less than six months until the UK leaves the EU and “many” organisations have not developed detailed plans for what will happen in a range of outcomes, making it more likely they will be caught out by instability and change around the time of the exit. We do not know which organisations these are but the LRF’s 170 partner organisations cover a wide field of services that impact on Londoners’ lives.
“There is a significant gap in information and planning assumptions necessary to inform detailed contingency planning… the technical notices… while helpful for some sector specific issues, do not alone contain sufficient information to inform contingency planning”
- If organisations have not developed plans, this is perhaps because they do not have the information to do so. The technical notices have already been noted by the Local Government Association as of limited help. Many simply promise further work from the Government.
“It was clear from informal discussions with some representatives… that many felt unable to speak openly”
- If local partners cannot or will not talk to each other, then resilience planning will be hindered. The Government has not created the atmosphere of openness and shared endeavour necessary to get through the changes associated with Brexit.
“A general concern that information prepared by professional bodies is often appropriated for political use in pro and anti Brexit campaigning”
- Brexit planning runs the risk of being discredited by labels of “project fear” and other attacks from pro-hard Brexit sources. This makes it difficult for public agencies to pass relevant messages about preparation onto public bodies and the population at large.
“delegates overwhelmingly felt that further information will need to be provided by central government to inform their own local assessments going forward”
- Although much contingency work, on supply chains for example, will need to be done at an organisation level, this cannot begin until they know the parameters they are working in
“Without further detailed information and its timely dissemination to all agencies with a requirement to plan for a no-deal scenario, it [central government] will not enable further focussed local planning”
- The Conservative Government have left the rest of the state in the dark and are now limiting their ability to plan. The Government’s fear of attack for being seen to expect a bad outcome from Brexit has stopped them setting a direction for others
“Partners are generally confident in their ability to implement adequate contingency plans for Brexit, and in the Partnership’s capability to respond to specific risks such as increased protest activity and the potential for civil unrest”
- Areas remain where partners are not confident of their ability to respond to Brexit. Partners are planning for civil unrest and protests. Not only is this a damning verdict on the Brexit process, it also takes up resources that could be used to plan for new systems post-Brexit.
“There is a gap in information about potential risks that may require the Partnership to respond to an emergency…there remains uncertainty about the implications for food supplies and border disruption”
- The LGA and others have pointed out the increased regulatory burden on local government if the UK has to inspect more goods. The Partnership still believes an interruption to food supplies to be a risk (either as an absolute insufficiency of food imports or from backlogs in checks). There is not enough information from the Government to make detailed plans for this yet.
“The potential implications on the resilience of their sector of a worst case scenario no-deal Brexit (with no transition/implementation period from 29th March 2019):
- Health sector: Significant negative impact on resilience
- Local authorities: Negative to significant negative impact on resilience
- Emergency services: Negative impact on resilience
- Business: Slight negative to negative impact on resilience
- Transport and utilities: Negative to significant negative impact on resilience
- Environment, voluntary, faith: Slight negative to negative impact on resilience”
- This underlines the importance of avoiding no deal. That situation is predicted to worsen London’s resilience across the board and significantly in health, transport and local services. Londoners need to be told what “negative impacts” would cash out as in terms of their everyday lives. If the Government reaches the point of no deal / hard Brexit without being honest about what that looks like, the risk of civil unrest may be higher.
“Based on multiple sources, the London Resilience Group recommends at this point in time that the Partnership prepares on the basis that disruption at ports may occur for a number of weeks, possibly even months”
- Food, medicines, and other supplies depend on just-in-time logistics. A delay of one week, let alone months, would be felt by consumers and organisations. While it is wise to plan for the worst case, it is not clear how the UK’s economic model could adapt so quickly to such a different situation from the last two or three decades
“issues were discussed at the summit which are considered to be longer-term policy issues
- Potential for economic decline and/or a rise in costs
- a down-turn in revenue, access to EU grant funding, downgrading of credit ratings
- Workforce availability and implications for critical sectors”
- The plans and estimation of impact for an immediate no deal / hard Brexit is the tip of the iceberg.
“October / November 2018 provide assurance of Partnership preparedness for Brexit to include:
- Business continuity – ability to maintain essential services (with support from partner organisations if required).
- Emergency response capability – ability to deploy Partnership capabilities to respond to incidents or emergencies should they arise (e.g. protest, civil unrest, fuel, energy (for all of which there are extant capabilities), food supply or border disruption (no extant Partnership capabilities)
- LRP has set itself a target of one month to develop this mechanism where currently no plans exist, for matters as important as food supplies. Given the lack of information so far from the Government, it is not clear this is realistic.
“the Partnership prepares on the basis that strategic coordination arrangements may be required for a number of weeks and possibly months”
- What would be the impact of this on Londoners’ day to day lives and the city more broadly? There are also questions about accountability in this situation whereby a variety of governmental and non-governmental groups will have to work together in the face of competing priorities over basic goods like food, fuel and emergency materials.