3. Conclusions And Recommendations
The need for reliable data on redundancy – about both businesses and individuals – was the basis for the PACE continuous improvement programme resolution to investigate data sharing amongst PACE Delivery Partners. In the wake of COVID-19 and its impact on jobs, this need is now more important than ever. Identifying the business types and sectors most affected by redundancy will be key to planning a coordinated approach to unemployment in the coming months and years. PACE may already have access to business-level data and this should be analysed to understand the broad trends. At the individual level, the consultation exercise has highlighted a willingness to explore the potential for data sharing further, however, as our recommendations highlight, the redundancy data sharing 'project' now needs to have some dedicated resource in order to make genuine progress. This may require the PACE Partners to make decisions linked to resourcing eg funding commitments, and to decide on the lifespan and priorities of the project.
Our literature review highlighted a wide variety of data sharing scenarios, involving public, private and third sector organisations. Almost all data sharing arrangements have to overcome barriers, often legal and technical in nature, but also linked to culture eg attitude to data sharing, and the availability of resources/budget to make data sharing happen. What is clear is that any data sharing arrangement needs commitment – this is created by making data sharing as easy as possible for those involved and by ensuring reciprocity, or in other words, that all the partners involved in data sharing can see benefits.
Our Stage 1 interviews with PACE Partners highlighted that, overall, partners recognised that there was potential to share more complete information about PACE clients in order to provide a better service. However, partners highlighted several challenges that would need to be overcome and many questioned whether the investment required - in terms of time, money and resources – would provide data of sufficient value for the PACE service and redundancy audience.
In Stage 2 it became clear that the value of being able to analyse patterns and trends in redundancies was recognised, enabling a much more effective and carefully designed response to the impact of Covid-19 in the short and medium term – and to major macro-economic changes in the longer term.
We established that there were some grounds for comparability and matching across partner databases, though of note, National Insurance number (a unique personal identifier) was not collected across the board. This highlights the need for detailed discussions with partners and subsequent data processing in order to bring data from various sources and databases together in a comparable way.
In reality, although recognised as important, addressing redundancy is not at the heart of the work undertaken by the PACE Partners. This has implications for the amount of time and resource that partners can commit to setting up data sharing arrangements. Having said that, partners saw potential in the data sharing scenario that was reviewed in the Stage 2 interviews and all were willing to enter in to exploratory conversations on how they could contribute (partially if not fully) to PACE data sharing.
The literature review highlighted a number of key factors that facilitate effective data sharing. In the context of PACE data sharing we recommend that the following issues be addressed:
- People: establish the relevant teams and people within each partner organisation who need to be involved in order to progress data sharing
- Technical capacities: find the commonalities, either across all partners, or groups of partners that will allow data to be shared
- Partnership development: win hearts and minds by convincing partners of the benefits eg in general and to them
- Organisational culture: give partners the reassurance that the legal aspects of data sharing are in place and that they are operating in line with GDPR and other rules.
Our Stage 1 consultations highlighted that, with a number of notable barriers identified by partners, the case for data sharing needs to be made. In particular, we recommend the following:
- Key partners: Detailed scoping conversations should take place with representatives from DWP and HMRC to ascertain if their 'barriers' to PACE data sharing can be overcome. In effect, without involvement from these key organisations, it seems unlikely that an effective data sharing process can be established
- Explain the journey: Partners tended to think in absolute terms ie envisaging the difficulties associated trying to create a fully functioning data sharing arrangement. A key message for partners is that data sharing can start from zero and build towards 100%, and in that way their own contribution could be smaller (and therefore less onerous) at the start and build from there.
- Address key issues: It was clear from feedback that partners were apprehensive about data sharing and also unsure about the benefits. We recommend upcoming PACE Partnership meetings are used to outline the benefits, discuss and give examples of reciprocity and address the need (or otherwise) for statutory compliance in PACE data sharing.
Stage 2 highlighted the increasing value of being able to analyse patterns and trends in redundancies was recognised, enabling a much more effective and carefully designed response to the impact of Covid-19 in the short and medium term – and to major macro-economic changes in the longer term.
In this context, PACE Partners are willing to explore how they can contribute to a better understanding of redundancy, including a clearer picture of those affected by redundancy and how they can be most effectively helped.
In light of the increasing need to understand pattern and trends in redundancy, and in order to move forward we recommend that the PACE Partnership and the redundancy data sharing project have some dedicated resource, with an ability to draw on systems experts and project managers, and ad-hoc advice from key partners (eg legal advice/input from SG as required). The initial focus should be on sharing data to enable a greater understanding of the patterns and trends in redundancies.
Priorities would include:
- Liaise with PACE Partners: establish the relevant teams/people within each partner organisation
- An initial focus on DWP and HMRC would be advisable given their key roles
- Explore the potential: establish what can be done in the short to medium term
- The 0-100 analogy allows progress to be made and measured, however small at the start
- Work through the process with reciprocity in mind. How will the partners benefit?
- Cover the basics: the project team should have access to ad-hoc legal advice, for example, from the Scottish Government.
This report has addressed the resolution (from the PACE Continuous Improvement Programme) to investigate data sharing amongst PACE Delivery Partners. At present, the main barriers to enhancing PACE data sharing are based on assumptions – for example, that it will be technically difficult; that there will be legal barriers; that partners will lack the time/resources to commit to the process. Our recommendations will allow these concerns to be addressed and dealt with, leading to genuine progress on much needed redundancy data sharing. But it will require additional resources to take these recommendations forward.