Brits should stock up on torches and candles to prepare for power cuts, Oliver Dowden says

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has suggested that people prepare for future risks by stocking up on torches, candles and battery-powered radios. Credit: PA

Britons should stock up on torches, battery-powered radios and candles to prepare for power cuts or cyber the deputy prime minister has said, as he announced plans for a national “resilience academy”.

Oliver Dowden suggested people stock up on analogue supplies, including first aid kits and torches in order to prepare for communication blackouts, according to The Times.

In a visit to Porton Down, the UK’s military laboratory, he said it "makes sense" to retain “analogue capabilities" in a digital age.

The visit came as he outlined plans to launch a national “resilience academy” to help people and businesses prepare for future pandemics, natural disasters and digital communication blackouts.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, cyber attacks, pandemics, the misuse of artificial intelligence and extreme weather among some of the risks the UK faces Mr Dowden said as he outlined the plans in the House of Commons.

Businesses will be offered training to deal with the impact of such threats, while a new website will provide the public with “practical advice” on how to be better prepared for future risks, he said.

Dowden suggested that Britons stock up on torches and candles to prepare for power cuts or digital communications going down. Credit: Pexels

Mr Dowden made the announcement as part of his first annual risk and resilience statement, which he had promised to give last year when launching the government’s UK resilience framework.

He told the Commons: “The government has a role in bringing all actors together and to give them the skills they need. Today, I can announce we are developing a new UK resilience academy that will improve the skills of those groups.

“It will provide a range of learning and training opportunities for the whole of society.

“For professionals, there will be a curriculum to build skills, knowledge and networks, and a centre for excellence for exercising.

“For businesses, there will be greater guidance and particularly assistance on threats to critical national infrastructure and cyber.

“And for citizens, there will be a unified government resilience website, which will provide practical advice on how households can prepare as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the simple steps individuals can take to raise their resilience.”

Mr Dowden also said the government will develop a new volunteer hub aimed at helping authorities draw on a single pool of volunteers who want to help in future events similar to the Covid pandemic, which he said “demonstrated the overwhelming community spirit” of the UK.

Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden welcomed the measures but asked what the government is doing to bolster resilience in energy supplies and the “public estate”, as well as in elections.

He said: “Why is it that the government’s new policy is to roll back on the transition mandated by its own legislation for net zero, and prolong a reliance on international fossil fuel markets? For these failures, the British public has paid a heavy price.

Labour's Pat McFadden Credit: PA

“And how will the government increase resilience in the public estate? Schools’ capital budgets cut back under this prime minister’s watch while he was chancellor. School roofs falling in, disrupting children’s education.”

He also pressed ministers to implement recommendations of Parliament’s intelligence and security committee, aimed at preventing Russia and other states from interfering with upcoming elections.

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