Headlines: September 14th, 2006



The Government is to produce a comprehensive plan next spring for the sharing of information across the public sector as part of its strategy to combat social exclusion. The announcement came as it set out its commitment to making the best use of information across the public services to expand opportunities for the most disadvantaged people as well as for fighting crime and improving services.

The statement on sharing was issued by the Department for Constitutional Affairs to go alongside the Social Exclusion Action Plan revealed earlier this week. The idea is to enable improved multi-agency working. The statement details how information is already being shared but also illustrates how it could be shared in the future to achieve the goal of better public services that bring improved results for citizens, for businesses and for society as a whole.

The Information Rights minister, Baroness Catherine Ashton, said the comprehensive plan for information-sharing across the public sector would be published in April 2007. The Government, she said, wanted to deliver the best possible support to people in need. “We can only do this with the right information about people’s circumstances. We are determined that information-sharing will help us to better target support to the most disadvantaged in society,” she added.

The Social Exclusion Action Plan, she said, showed how this could be achieved through agencies working together to put the focus on the needs of individual people or families. “The information needed to make this happen already exists but it is not always shared. That is why the Government is committed to more information-sharing between public sector organisations and service providers,” she went on.

Pat McFadden, the Minister for Social Exclusion and eGovernment, said helping people with multiple and complex problems needed a joined up response and that meant using information that might be held by different agencies and professionals more effectively.

Baroness Ashton recognised the need for people to be confident that their personal data was kept safe and secure and Mr. McFadden added, “We know we need to retain public trust and to ensure that technology is used not only to transform public services, but also to protect the individual.”