‘Managing risk is an ongoing reality for all of us’

Fenika Bench

Biba 2022: Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, believes that ”challenging some of the norms in the way that we work” is the way forward in tackling the “ongoing reality” of risk management.

Speaking during the opening keynote address on day one of Biba’s 2022 conference last week in Manchester (11 May 2022), Burnham told delegates: ”Managing risk is an ongoing reality for all of us and I do think it will take challenging some of the norms in the way that we work.

“This is where you and I have something in common as we are both in the business of managing risk.

“The reality of the times that we are living in is that the shots are coming at us with huge pace and regularity that we have never seen before, so just the volatility and turbulence in the world.

”It’s evident in the list of events in the last five years that we have lived through, that they are becoming more frequent, these shots, and more unexpected.”

He cited examples such as the wildfires on the hills above Greater Manchester in summer 2018, the bombing of Manchester Arena at Ariana Grande’s concert in 2017, flooding, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the region, the ongoing cladding crisis and, more recently, displaced people arriving from Ukraine.

“We couldn’t have foreseen any of that five years ago,” Burnham said. 

Too many risks

For Burnham, his ”big takeaway from the pandemic” was that ”too many of our residents in Greater Manchester are exposed to too much risk on a daily basis – they are exposed to too much insecurity”. 

”They are being forced to live life too close to the edge and that is not a good place for them to be,” he added.

“We do have to build policy at a collective level, but also at an individual one. The pandemic exposed too many of our residents who can’t stop working when they are ill because they won’t be paid if they stop working due to the nature of their employment.

”If you don’t have security over your income, you do not have security over your home. That is a reality for too many people and that really needs to change. We are on a mission to change it.”

Burnham believes that it is important to think differently in order to support others through these changing times – he listed the insurance sector’s work to assist victims of the cladding crisis, as well as the aid it provided to those with serious medical conditions throughout the pandemic as examples.

But, ”the danger is we just crack on with everything without processing what we have all lived though and what it all means,” Burnham continued.

Committed to change

Burnham has his own version of the UK government’s “Levelling Up” strategy for Manchester – this includes the provision of “better homes, better jobs and better public transport” for the city. 

“You can’t look at economic gross progress in isolation – it has to go hand in hand with social progress,” he added. 

The government’s Levelling Up plan is a moral, social and economic programme that aims to spread opportunity more equally across the UK.

With this in mind, Burnham has ambitions to put Manchester and the north of England in the limelight. He noted that Manchester is the fastest growing digital and technology hub in Europe, for example.

Burnham said: “That’s what I am doing with fellow mayors across the north and I hope you can see when you look at our skyline that the change is real.

“For us, it’s very much a work in progress and I am very committed to seeing it through.”

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