The SAVVI project continues to move at pace! For those that are new to SAVVI, we are working on an MHCLG C19 Challenge Funded project to propose data standards to improve how local councils can find vulnerable people and households. Since our last blog, we have completed the discovery phase of the project: we have listened to our partners’ data needs for, and experiences of, identifying vulnerability for C19 and homelessness response. 

The IG Problem

We have learned a lot from the discovery workshops. One core theme that continues to crop up is that of Information Governance. When we asked about blocks and barriers to using data to identify those individuals and households that were most vulnerable (whether in context of C19, or homelessness), we were hearing some consistent issues around the question of: how do we get agreement across partners on the legal basis for data sharing?

Some of the things that we heard is that: 

  • Partners did not agree on the legal basis for data sharing.
  • Partners did not agree on how data would be handled once shared
  • Different partnering organisations have varying levels of risk appetite for data sharing
  • Different organisations have different interpretations of the legal gateways for sharing data
  • Different organisations have different definitions of vulnerability, leading to variation on the basis of the purpose for sharing data
  • There is a lack of consistency regarding how we ask for data to be shared
  • The process of all local authorities individually ‘doing’ data sharing with partner organisations and with Government is inefficient because we are all doing it differently
  • IG is often perceived as a blocker rather than an enabler of information sharing

The SAVVI Response

In response to these issues, SAVVI pulled together an IG workshop to look specifically at how we could build an IG framework to address our approach to vulnerability data. Hosted by iStandUK and facilitated by iNetwork, the following organisations took part in the workshop: DWP, ICO, Cabinet Office, MHCLG, NHS, UKCGC, GMCA, North Yorkshire County Council, Bolton Council, Huntingdonshire County Council, Information Sharing Gateway, DAPIAN, and the LGA.

From This workshop, SAVVI has identified a number of ways it can help with addressing some of the identified IG issues. In response to getting agreement across partners on the legal basis for data sharing, firstly, SAVVI will define the steps that partners should go through to establish data sharing, particularly for secondary use of data. The project will standardise the terminology and definitions of common vulnerability scenarios. SAVVI can also help by enabling IG outputs to be shared so that others can see how partnerships have succeeded.

In terms of having different definitions of vulnerability, the SAVVI project can help by starting a register of definitions of vulnerabilities which can be used as the ‘purpose’ of data sharing. We will consider where this register would be held so it has national visibility.

The issue of a standard approach for requesting data is multilayered. SAVVI can help by promoting the existing templates and processes for requesting data from Government, such as the DWP. The DWP have recently launched a set of templates for local gov to request the re-use of existing data, and for access to new data. As part of this, the SAVVI project is keen to support the standardising of templates across government to make data requests as uniform, simple and efficient as possible. Some of the inefficiencies across our sector nationally is created by councils and partners needing to feed the IG process machine over and over again; SAVVI will be exploring some systemic solutions with Cabinet Office and the use of the Digital Economy act for vulnerability purposes.

In our commitment to working in the open, the full set of learning points from the SAVVI IG workshop has been written up and can be found on the iStandUK website.