Putting information to good use: sharing to support service change

Much of the work that IISaM has learnt from has been about how to support the delivery of services – making sure that practitioners and operational staff know when and how to share information more effectively.  But increasingly, as we work with areas rethinking their public services (supported by the Public Service Transformation Network), and in the context of wider change in the public sector, we’re taking information sharing up stream.  To redesign the way we deliver public services – to deliver better for less – requires an understanding of how things work at present, and where the priorities ought to be.  Information sharing is vital in making that happen.

So it is interesting to read about an example of information sharing between government departments, for the same purposes.  The Ministry of Justice and Department for Work & Pensions agreed to share data on 3.6 million offenders in England and Wales, to explore their interactions with work, the benefits system and the justice system.  The data share showed that an individual who had been in prison was more likely to spend time in the 3 years following release receiving out of work benefits, compared to those benefits claimants who had not been in prison.  This led to a change of policy by DWP: individuals who leave prison and who go on to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance are directed to the Work Programme when they first claim, to get intensive help right from the start.  The MoJ were also able to analyse the data, and discovered that entering paid work reduced the likelihood of reoffending.

As the article’s authors say:

This is a powerful example of how secure sharing of anonymised data across government departments can contribute to service improvements for some of the most disadvantaged people in society. Previously, such information may have been gathered through a specific data collection exercise or survey, which can be costly and time consuming. The project demonstrates the possibilities of joining up data across departments, and this is likely to become an increasingly important and common, yielding new insight at relatively low cost… Joined-up services require joining up data, allowing smarter evidence bases to be developed.

You can read the full article here: https://quarterly.blog.gov.uk/2013/07/12/putting-data-to-good-use-helping-offenders-find-work/.  We’re currently starting to gather case studies on information sharing to support analysis, research and evaluation – if you have a knotty problem, or an example of good practice, why not get in touch?