Abstracts: June 16th, 2010

This guide outlines opportunities for greater sharing of data to help tackle worklessness. It deals with data about the customers of employment, skills and ‘wrap around’ services. The guide describes their needs and experiences and the benefits and rewards they gain from taking up these services.

The guide takes into account developments from the DWP pilot projects in Kent, Leeds and Liverpool. The aim of the pilots was to explore ways of sharing data safely and legally to improve services and learn lessons for wider application. The projects involved passing of names and details of lone parents with older children to the local authority to allow targeted approaches about parenting, childcare and employment options ahead of work-focused interviews with Jobcentre Plus.

The guide explains that data are not shared as widely and effectively as they could be and it highlights that lack of data sharing can undermine value for money and partnership-wide wasting of resources. This can lead to disjointed services that fail to offer what customers need.

Data sharing may seem self-evidently a good thing, but there is a need to balance sharing with protecting individual privacy and keeping within the law governing the work of public bodies. The guide charts a course between these two risks. It highlights the ways in which shared data can contribute in tackling worklessness, sets out what can get in the way of data sharing and what lies behind these barriers.

In helping to chart an effective course it draws distinctions between different types of data sharing, the importance of personal consent and it explains the legal basis for data sharing, including what DWP can and cannot share.

The guide is available from IDeA. http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/aio/19221282