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Managing Recovery

Managing Recovery

Recovery principles

Recovering from emergencies should be based on the following broad principles:

  • The RP should consider recovery as a key element of its activities at all times
  • Communities and individuals should be supported through the provision of information, specialist services and resources. The recovery process should commence from the moment the emergency begins
  • Effective recovery is a multi-agency activity that requires sound preparation and management arrangements appropriate to the particular circumstances of the emergency at all times
  • Recovery arrangements should be agreed and understood by local responders, communities and their partners
  • Effective recovery recognises the complex and dynamic nature of the process and the changing needs of those affected
  • Effective recovery should be conducted at the local level with the active participation of the affected community and a strong reliance on local capacities and expertise
  • The wider community, private sector and voluntary organisations will play a part in recovery
  • All agencies involved should have a part in the decision-making which influences recovery
  • Recovery planning and management arrangements should be supported by training programmes and exercises which ensure that all who will be involved are properly prepared for their role
  • Recovery assistance measures should be provided in a timely, fair and equitable manner for a diversity of community needs.

Integrated emergency management

Resilience in Scotland is built upon the principles of Integrated Emergency Management (IEM) in which preparation and response to emergencies focuses on the effects of hazards rather than their causes.

IEM is undertaken as an extension of a local responder's normal day to day activities, defined as its functions in the Civil Contingencies Act. Performing those

functions at all stages of the resilience cycle is fundamental to IEM. For example, the same people will provide specialist scientific advice in the immediate aftermath of an emergency or in the longer term.

Five key activities support IEM1. They include recovery which “addresses the human, physical, environmental and economic impact of emergencies. Recovery should be an integral part of the combined response as actions taken at all times can influence the longer term outcomes for communities.”

Recovery complements the immediate response to emergencies by seeking to minimise the harmful effects on people and communities. It is sensible to integrate and harmonise the management arrangements for preparation, response and recovery. A key feature of IEM is that the same basic management structure will apply at those times although its leadership and focus may change.

RPs have adopted IEM and the management framework described in Preparing Scotland2. The basis for managing recovery is, therefore, in place. The guidance below explores how it can be adapted and, where necessary, extended to meet the needs of those managing recovery.

Recovery structures

RPs have generic arrangements to allow for an effective managed response to emergencies. They are based upon three well-known and understood levels of management – strategic, tactical and operational. The structure is modular and adaptable to a wide range of emergencies. Implementation of the various parts of the structure is subject to agreed local procedures3.

The role of the Resilience Partnerships is consistent in both response and recovery from emergencies. The leadership and membership of the group may change as the urgent and immediate response diminishes and recovery becomes the principal concern.

When an emergency occurs the Resilience Partnership may establish complementary sub-groups which will:

  • keep abreast of the changing needs of response
  • gather and analyse information and intelligence
  • determine priorities for allocating resources
  • obtain further resources as required
  • plan and co-ordinate tasks to be undertaken
  • consider the future direction of response (and recovery)
  • inform and advise strategic managers as and when required
  • implement decisions taken by the Resilience Partnership through resources acting at an operational level.

The role of the tactical level of management is consistent in response and recovery from emergencies.

A number of sub-groups may support the RP in its recovery activities. They may include sub-groups to deal with:

  • community engagement/liaison
  • care for people
  • environment and infrastructure
  • public communications
  • scientific and technical advice (STAC)
  • finance, legal and administration
  • business and economic recovery.

Outline details of the purpose, membership and roles of these sub-groups are shown in Annex 1 Fuller details may be found in specific Preparing Scotland guidance as shown in the Annex. It may not be necessary to initiate all sub-groups in a particular emergency. However, the sub-groups’ knowledge, expertise and experience might assist and inform the recovery strategy by identifying contemporary issues within their specialist areas.

Where the discrete elements of the sub-group structure overlap there is a need for a communication link, a single management point of contact in the first instance. It is critically important that the links, contacts and the responsibilities of those nominated to undertake the roles are clear and understood by all responders in the group in which they work. The structure will expand, contract or develop according to the nature and scale of an emergency. For example, in recovery the operators of a significant industrial site might be invited to join any of its groups or even lead a multi-agency sub-group to manage industrial interests.

The RP will determine the most effective management structure for particular emergencies. In preparation it should consider how its generic arrangements/plans would adapt and evolve to manage recovery.

It may be necessary to prepare for recovery from particular emergencies covered by regulatory regimes such as Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH). It makes sense, where appropriate, to integrate specific arrangements for recovery from particular emergencies with the generic arrangements for recovery from any emergency.

Recovery arrangements/plans should be accepted as the stated policy of the RP and the organisation or organisations, for which they have been produced. The key decision makers in an organisation should acknowledge ownership.

The RP may decide to establish a sub-group or groups to implement strategies for recovery set by the strategic group. This is a matter for local determination. However, given that the role, membership and activities of the various groups described above are established and that their members are performing their normal functions, albeit in difficult circumstances, the RP might wish to consider:

  • if it has sufficient resources to provide management activity for both response and recovery
  • the potential confusion arising from duplication by establishing groups with similar management roles and performing similar functions
  • the potential for conflicting managerial direction where response and recovery, necessarily, run in parallel.

Scottish Government involvement

When the scale or complexity of an emergency is such that some degree of central government co-ordination or support becomes necessary, Scottish Government will activate its emergency response arrangements through its Resilience Room (SGoRR) to:

  • act as the focal point for communication with sponsored bodies, agencies and RPs
  • provide national strategic direction for Scotland
  • brief Ministers
  • co-ordinate and support the activity of Scottish Government and its Directorates
  • draw upon and apply resources to support local recovery, as necessary
  • despatch a Scottish Government Liaison Officer to work with RPs
  • liaise with UK Government and its Lead Government Department (LGD) regarding Scottish interests
  • co-ordinate and disseminate information for the public and the media at the national level
  • advise on the relative priority to be attached to multi-site or multiple emergencies.

The consequence management of any emergency occurring in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government therefore always leads on Government consequence management in Scotland. When an emergency occurring in Scotland has implications for UK Government a LGD may be nominated. Scottish Government Directorates will work closely with UK LGDs to ensure co-ordinated government activity in Scotland.

When an emergency requires a response from a number of UK Departments or devolved administrations the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) and related arrangements will be activated. Further details are available at UK Government’s emergency response.

In preparation, areas of Scotland that border other UK administrations should agree with their neighbours how recovery would be co-ordinated in cross-boundary emergencies as part of their generic arrangements.


The leadership and membership of the RP and its various management groups will reflect the nature of the emergency, the particular circumstances at the time, local arrangements and relationships.

The leadership of the RP should adapt to reflect any significant change in emphasis in management activity. For example, its leadership in preparation, response and recovery may be different. Leadership in preparation varies across RP areas. In most emergencies the strategic response would be led by a senior police officer. A local authority Chief Executive should normally lead the recovery process by virtue of local authorities’ functions, their role in safeguarding people in their area and their powers to promote community wellbeing.

It is unlikely that there will be an early transfer of leadership if the activities related to the immediate response and recovery run in parallel. In that case the lead for response may lead the RP’s overall considerations whilst the local authority works with partners in determining a strategy for recovery. The RP’s administrative arrangements will enable any formal change of leadership to be recorded/minuted. The criteria for transfer of leadership should be agreed by the RP with reference to the nature and particular circumstances of each emergency.

In preparation the RP should be clear about how it would identify its leadership for recovery from emergencies of different types or scales. It should consider leadership for recovery if an emergency affected one or more local authorities or the whole of its area. When recovering from a wide area emergency, inconsistencies in approach in different areas may be problematic for managers.

Accepting leadership of the recovery process does not mean that responder accepting sole responsibility or funding for the recovery. Each responder remains responsible for the functions it performs and the costs.

Relationship with responders’ normal organisational management

The RP’s emergency arrangements are activated in emergencies which seriously obstruct the normal functions of its partners or demand action be taken that requires a special deployment of resources.

Experience has shown that recovery is most effective when it commences as soon as possible after an emergency has occurred. In view of the importance of recovery for the affected communities the strategic group should consider its recovery strategy at the earliest opportunity following an emergency. If there is a need for multi-agency co-ordination the RP’s generic plans and structures (see above) provide a sound foundation within which multi-agency recovery can be managed.

Management arrangements should be reviewed constantly to ensure their appropriateness to current and anticipated conditions. Managers should be aware that one important measure of the success of recovery is a return to the normal ways of providing services.

The length of time that RP recovery arrangements need to continue will vary according to the nature and scale of the emergency. Arrangements should be stood down once there is no longer the need for regular multi-agency co-ordination and any remaining issues can be dealt with by individual agencies’ normal business. Depending on the recovery issues being addressed, it may be possible to stand- down some elements of the overall arrangements on a phased basis. The continuing needs of the community will be key to the decisions to modify or stand down special management arrangements which should, nonetheless, continue to provide a ‘joined up’ and seamless approach for as long as necessary.

When a decision to stand-down special arrangements has been taken the community should be informed and provided with details of how services can be accessed in the future.

Relationship with normal administrative and political processes

In recovering from emergencies the normal political structures and processes that characterise and determine the way many of the RP’s partners work still apply. People affected by an emergency will look to their elected representatives for leadership and support in articulating their concerns and taking action to resolve their difficulties. Elected representatives also have a very important role in giving credible information and advice to the community.

Through their normal duties, elected members give their organisations strategic direction and decide policy. They have duties to ensure that functions are carried out effectively, efficiently, economically and legally. They will, ultimately, authorise actions affecting their organisation’s functions. Therefore, they will need accurate, up to date information to enable them to make well informed judgements.

Elected representatives may be involved with many aspects of community life through formal bodies, local charities and various community groups. They are a valuable source of local knowledge, help and specialist advice. Details of the potential role of elected representatives are provided at Annex 2.

Managers, in particular those from local authorities, will be aware of the administrative regime within which they work and should devise response and recovery arrangements that suit their authority and its structures. For example, a local authority might formalise its delegation to senior managers or make arrangements to establish a small ‘emergency committee’ to deal with the immediate and urgent needs of an emergency. It may be helpful, in preparation, to explain to elected members the nature of emergency response, recovery, communications routes and their role in supporting their communities’ recovery.

Working with agencies outside the Resilience Partnership

In light of the cross-cutting nature of recovery it is likely that the range of participants will include those that have a limited role in the RP’s activities in preparation. They may include organisations such as Scottish Enterprise, Visit Scotland/Tourist Boards, Chambers of Commerce, Scottish Natural Heritage and many community groups, voluntary organisations, faith communities and individual businesses.

Local authorities should lead recovery. They are skilled and experienced in multi- agency working and aligning the aims of disparate organisations to achieve common objectives. By building the initial recovery activities on the RP’s flexible and adaptable arrangements the activities of organisations that are not normally involved in public policy making can be integrated and co-ordinated. This will have benefits both for the overall recovery effort and for the organisation involved by improving communications, co-ordinating joint work and obviating the duplication of effort.

RPs’ management structures allow for the effective integration of the recovery activities of external supporters and providers. Ideally they should work closely with the groups established by the RP that align with their functions and build upon existing networks and awareness of roles or, at the very least, bring together people who have a common understanding of the issues to be addressed.

Community engagement

Effective engagement and liaison with affected communities is significant in determining the success of response and recovery. The establishment of a Community Recovery/Liaison Group can promote closer working between responders and those affected. It is also important that, where appropriate, the community should be enabled to determine and undertake its own recovery.

The public will accept and make allowances for a period of disruption for a short time. Responders will be under pressure to restore any services interrupted by the incident as quickly as possible. Expectations will rise as time progresses and responders will need to demonstrate that they are coping and in doing so build public confidence.

A public meeting should be considered at an early stage. Having separate meetings for affected residents and businesses can be particularly useful, bearing in mind their differing information requirements. Any meeting should be as structured as possible and include presentations on the current situation. It should involve senior representatives from all the agencies involved, able to answer questions authoritatively. These senior representatives would preferably be involved in the RP response and be clear about the agreed multi-agency strategy, action plan (if established) and public information messages. A public meeting can allow people to air their concerns and opinions, help them to come to terms with the consequences of the emergency and allow them to identify their priorities for recovery. Depending on the nature of the incident, the inclusion of representatives from local faith communities and other relevant groups can often be a key link to minority groups, especially where there are language difficulties and sensitivity issues.

One effective method for engaging with the community during recovery is establishing humanitarian assistance centres (HACs)4 or other drop in centres to allow the public access to information and assistance on the whole range of problems that they may be experiencing. These may be based in the communities that have been affected and/or where residents have been relocated. Consideration might be given to the use of mobile units if other facilities are rendered unusable. In a wide area incident, facilities in a central location easily accessible by public transport might be established. Staff from a range of different agencies should be available (locally or by dedicated contact) to answer questions and advise. The centres should remain in close contact with sub-groups dealing with specific issues. It is important to ensure that an approach to any member of the RP, at any place, can be directed to those most able to respond.

Category 1 responders have many local partnerships dealing with a variety of matters of community interest. Local groups might deal with matters such as community planning, community safety, community health, sport and leisure or a wide variety of other topics. They will have established local networks and processes that can be utilised to support recovery by informing, advising and canvassing community opinion.

Ad-hoc, neighbourhood forums or groups may be established to enable engagement with discrete parts of the community and reflect their particular characteristics and social structures. Neighbourhoods could choose their own natural leaders to represent their interests.

The affected community’s elected representatives have a role as a conduit for information between their communities and local responders. As civic leaders, they are involved with many aspects of community life and can provide a focus for gathering community concerns, as well as providing a mechanism for responders to provide information for the public. Therefore, their inclusion in community initiatives is important.

The benefits of a perceived ‘good’ response can be undermined by poor recovery management. The reconstruction and restoration of amenities and normal services needs to be managed effectively and transparently, and to demonstrate the consideration given to the wishes of the community.

Expenditure and record keeping

The costs to responders of performing their functions (any power or duty whether conferred by virtue of an enactment or otherwise) to support recovery following an emergency may be significant. Responders should ensure that competent financial systems, cost control and cost capture protocols are established. Contemporary evidence of sound financial management will be required for cost assessment, cost recovery from third parties, payment and audit purposes.

Those managing response and recovery from emergencies should seek to recover their costs from those responsible, where they can be identified.

The Scottish Government may provide financial support under the Bellwin Scheme. The scheme allows Ministers to make additional revenue support available to local authorities to assist with the immediate and unforeseen costs in dealing with the aftermath of emergencies. It is a discretionary scheme, which exists to give special financial assistance to local authorities faced with an undue financial burden as a result of providing relief and carrying out immediate work due to large-scale emergencies. Further details can be found at Bellwin Scheme.

It is important for Local Authorities to communicate with the Scottish Government, usually via SGoRR in the event of exceptionally severe emergencies. The Scottish Government might consider other means of supporting local recovery in addition to any revenue support provided by the Bellwin Scheme. These arrangements are intended to offer a degree of assurance to local authorities that the Scottish Government will provide as much support and assistance as possible, as it has done following emergencies such as those related to severe weather.

Some UK Government Departments with functions exercisable in Scotland may consider providing funds in exceptional circumstances. Scottish Government will despatch Liaison Officers (SGLOs) to work with the RP following an emergency. SGLOs will have access, through SGoRR, to those in Government who can advise if sources of funding will be made available.

RPs’ generic arrangements should consider finance and expenditure in both response and recovery. It is important for RPs and their partners to:

  • establish protocols and systems for record keeping to facilitate the allocation of costs for multi-agency activity or where one responder supports another
  • assist the insurance industry, particularly loss adjusters, with the provision of information to expedite claims
  • put in place effective arrangements for dealing with, and accounting for, the distribution of public or other donations (for example, by establishing trusts and trust funds).

The RP and local responders will be aware that comprehensive and accurate record keeping is paramount. The responses to issues will be on public view, there will be a requirement to prepare reports for regulatory bodies and there is the potential for subsequent inquiries or litigation. Accurate records will also help in the identification of lessons for the future. Each responder should keep its own records and the RP should keep records of its activities and share them with its partners.

Debriefing and review

Debriefing and identification of lessons or action points can be an important part of the recovery process. It is also important to ensure that a continuous evaluation of the recovery phase takes place and that any issues identified are captured and acted upon. A formal debriefing process will identify issues from all partners involved in the recovery process. Consideration should also be given to obtaining views from those affected and their communities (residents and businesses).

After an emergency, responders should follow the National Debriefing and Lessons Identified Protocol to capture any issues identified, recommendations to be implemented and planning assumptions to be reviewed and to amend their arrangements accordingly5. It would be helpful for the reports to be passed to the Scottish Resilience Development Service (SCoRDS), which has a role in debriefing Scottish Government and sharing any lessons identified to build resilience in Scotland.

Debriefing may be carried out at different stages in the recovery, when certain ‘recovery milestones’ are achieved or a certain period of time has elapsed. There should be a continual process for debriefing throughout the recovery phase.

Training and exercising

Recovery activity is based on the day to day roles of the RP partners. The needs for effective decision making and co-ordination across a number and range of organisations requires aware and knowledgeable managers.

Managers and staff who will implement emergency arrangements require additional training to prepare them for the special circumstances experienced during an emergency and for any extra dimensions to their role. It is pointless making preparations if those who will implement them are unaware of their role and have not trained to perform it in recovery. It is therefore essential for those involved following an emergency to train and be aware of the issues they may have to face. The roles of the various groups established by the RP are consistent in response and recovery but the circumstances under which functions are performed differ. RPs should, therefore build the special circumstances of recovery into their groups’ training and exercising programmes.

1 Preparing Scotland Section 1, Chapter 3,

2 Preparing Scotland – Section 1 Chapter 3

3 Preparing Scotland – Section 1 Chapter 4

4 See Preparing Scotland - Guidance on caring for people affected by emergencies

5 See Preparing Scotland Section 2, Chapter 4, Para 4.32 – 4.34

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