Effective risk management


Cabinet Office/HM Treasury: Principles of Managing Risks to the Public

  • Evidence

Government will seek to base decisions on all relevant evidence.

Government will aim to ensure that all relevant evidence has been considered and, where possible, quantified before it takes decisions on risk. It will seek impartial and informed advice that can be independently verified wherever possible, and seek to build a shared understanding of the risks and options for action. It will consider evidence from a range of perspectives, including the public as well as experts. It will not use the absence of evidence alone to prove the absence or presence of threat, and will acknowledge alternative interpretations of the available evidence. It will make clear how evidence has informed its decisions and will keep them under review as new evidence comes to light.

  • Proportionality and consistency

Government will act proportionately and consistently in dealing with risks to the public.

Government will base all decisions about risks on what best serves the public interest. Action taken to tackle risks to the public will be proportionate to the level of protection needed and targeted to the risk. Government will seek to apply a consistent approach to its assessment of risks and opportunities and to its evaluation of the costs and benefits of options for handling them, and will ensure that these are clearly articulated. It will apply the precautionary principle where there is good reason to believe that irreversible harm may occur and where it is impossible to assess the risk with confidence, and will plan to revisit decisions as knowledge changes.


Strategy Unit's Risk: improving government's capability to handle uncertainty

5.14 Important lessons have been learned about the value of evidence-based decision making, openness and engagement, proportionality, consistency and targeting as part of the government’s reform agenda. The government has taken a number of steps to lay the foundations for better decision making about risks affecting the public. Principles of evidence-based decision making, openness and engagement are among those included in Better Policy Making. These principles are reflected in other cross-cutting policy initiatives, such as the Better Regulation Task Force’s (BRTF) Principles for Good Regulation.