Public sector risk managers and spending cuts: mitigating risks

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This paper reports case study research, the results of which are used to consider whether councils have recognised the potentially substantially increased social risks they may create as they seek to reduce their spending in line with the UK Government’s programme of public sector austerity. It discusses the conceptual shift in the public sector risk management literature towards social risk management (SRM), presents empirical evidence of social risks and considers the approach to SRM developed by other organisations. It finds no evidence of SRM within the case study authorities and so advocates a shift in the public sector risk management culture from a preoccupation with defensive-institutional risk management practices to a more proactive social dimension. In so doing, it discusses the goals of SRM, the constraints limiting their achievement, metrics for measuring social risk, tools for mitigating social risk and the problems faced when operationalising SRM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-565
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number5
Early online date24 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • UK public spending cuts
  • risk management
  • risk mitigation
  • local authorities


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