As a nation we must be better prepared to deal with threats and unprecedented shocks. This is particularly important if we are to make sure that the most vulnerable members of our communities are not affected disproportionately.
Robust response plans must be fit for purpose when faced with the real event, societal structures and economic and financial systems must be strengthened. This means not just investing in resilience and preparedness but adopting a cultural shift from a ‘just in time’ philosophy to one of ‘just in case’.
That is why the National Preparedness Commission has been set up with a mission to promote better preparedness for a major crisis or incident. The Commissioners bring a wealth of experience from public life, business, science, engineering, the voluntary sector, critical life-line utilities and finance. The aim is not only to raise awareness and promote debate on how to achieve better resilience, but also to influence Government policy and produce practical guides to help organisations make themselves more prepared, more robust and more fit to face whatever the future may bring.
When – not if – the next disaster hits, we want the whole country to be ready. And not just the Government but every local neighbourhood and every business both large and small – indeed every household and individual as well. That may sound an ambitious target, but that’s what being prepared is all about.
Lord Toby Harris chairs the National Preparedness Commission which has its first meeting on Thursday.