UK: Vulnerable children and families better supported through new data sharing projects

The £7.9 million data accelerator fund will support 10 data sharing projects across England to improve joined-up working between councils, NHS trusts and police.

Vulnerable children and families across England will receive earlier and better support from local services, through a new fund to improve how data is shared between local partners, Rough Sleeping and Housing Minister Eddie Hughes MP announced today (3 September 2021).

The £7.9 million Data Accelerator Fund, will see 10 councils work more closely with police forces, local NHS services and schools to share data to ensure children and families receive the right help at the right time.

By sharing information across schools, health, housing, police and social care, frontline workers can get a full picture of an individual family’s needs and the often interconnected challenges they face, such as mental health issues, employment, and substance misuse.

Having the complete information means tailored, wraparound support can be put in place as early as possible.

Today’s announcement builds on previous work as part of the government’s Supporting Families programme where data sharing was used to identify children at risk of exploitation.

One of the 10 projects is based on the pioneering Born in Bradford study, where data was used to improve the health and wellbeing of communities, ensuring schools and health services are equipped to deal with the needs of the population.

Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, said:

By local services sharing data, expertise and knowledge we can build a more complete picture of what is going on in a family’s life and use this to put in place tailored, wraparound support at an early stage.

This fund will give local areas the tools to identify and support vulnerable children and families as early as possible and help them to live more positive, fulfilling lives.

The 10 areas in England supported by the fund are: Nottingham, Leicestershire and Doncaster; Avon and Somerset; Reading, Portsmouth, Wokingham and West Berkshire; Sunderland; Leeds and Bradford; Doncaster and Wakefield; London; East Sussex; Greater Manchester; and Hertfordshire, Essex and Suffolk.

Examples of the projects being funded by the Data Accelerator Fund include:

data modelling to identify families that require early help and support from services, with a focus on financial problems and homelessness (Nottingham and Leicestershire)
using data from London boroughs, the Metropolitan Police and NHS North West London to plan and manage child social care placements (London)
a local birth cohort study tracking the health of children born in Doncaster and Wakefield, based on a previous pioneering study in Bradford (Doncaster and Wakefield)
Funding for the data projects will run up until 2023 and is divided over two years.

The Data Accelerator Fund is part of the government’s wider approach to supporting vulnerable people and is alongside the £165 million latest phase of the Supporting Families Programme – helping families to build brighter futures.

This forms part of the Data Improvement Across Government programme – funded by the £200 million Shared Outcomes Fund to deliver projects across government.