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Read our February news (and we're hiring)
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In this issue

  • What we want to see in Budget 2021
  • Reforming local government finance in Wales
  • Using administrative data to create better public services
  • How organisations can prepare for Breathing Space
  • Next webinar: Boost safeguarding through multi-agency data sharing
  • People news, and we're recruiting
  • ICYMI: Catch up on our latest blog posts
What we want to see in Budget 2021

The UK welfare system has largely risen to the challenge during the pandemic, but it has also become more complicated with the introduction of a number of new welfare measures and changes to existing support. In the budget on Wednesday 3 March we are likely to see major changes to these measures.

Deven spoke with Shelagh Fogerty on LBC ahead of the budget and outlined why he thinks the £20 uplift just papers over the cracks. Read his tweet thread here and listen to him on LBC here.

Read What COVID-19 has taught us about the benefit system we want
Reforming local government finance in Wales

Policy in Practice's research into the impact of Universal Credit on the council tax reduction scheme and rent arrears in Wales has been included in the Welsh government's discussion paper on Reforming Local Government Finance in Wales.

"The Council Tax Reduction Scheme has been a priority for this government, both in terms of ensuring it supports vulnerable and low-income households in the fairest way possible, and in terms of extending its reach. This is one reason why we commissioned detailed research by Policy in Practice to shed light on the impact of Universal Credit on the scheme and on patterns of council tax debt in Wales."
Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Trefnydd

Read Understanding the Impact of Universal Credit on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and Rent Arrears in Wales

Since this report was published the pandemic has led to a doubling of people claiming Universal Credit. In order to understand how this affects the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and council tax arrears in Wales, the Welsh Government asked Policy in Practice to extend our initial research. Our interim report, published in February, focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), council tax reduction awards and council tax arrears in Wales.

Conclusions show COVID-19 has increased CTRS caseload and the total value of CTRS reductions. It has also had an impact on council tax arrears in certain local authorities in Wales. The report also projects the impact of the pandemic as at March 2021.

Read Council Tax Reduction Scheme and COVID-19 in Wales: interim findings
Using administrative data to create better services

Safeguarding

The responsibility to safeguard vulnerable residents lies with councils, but far too often vulnerability is identified too late. At the moment, there is little data coordination that would identify a person that may require support, long before they hit a point of crisis.

To tackle this problem we have
joined CC2i as their technical partners in a data-driven project to identify vulnerable residents. We are developing an innovative and ground-breaking approach to combining administrative datasets. Called AIM (Active Intervention Management) it is the first project of its kind to link datasets from adult services, child services, police and healthcare, to create a common view of vulnerability.

Read more about our project with CC2i and AIM
Join our free webinar: Boost safeguarding through multi-agency data sharing

Boosting benefits take-up

Ov
er £10 billion of benefits is unclaimed each year. If there was ever a time to ensure that our most vulnerable households are getting all the support they’re eligible for it is now.

Most councils hold this remit within their core corporate strategy and need a way to support households as effectively as possible using the limited resources and finances they have.


Leading local authorities such as Folkestone and Hythe District Council use their administrative data to identify financial vulnerability amongst their low-income residents, and then use the insights to create proactive targeted benefit uptake campaigns.


Other leading councils like Rotherham Council believe in the motivational power of showing people how their finances can change if they can move into work.


Listen to Nick Harvey, Folkestone and Hythe District Council
Listen to Andy Johnson, Rotherham Council   

Read more about this webinar

Data for good in the public sector

Data is key to unlocking better services for citizens if the right processes can be put in place. Exploring the opportunities for data in the public sector, Deven was recently interviewed by Sarah Finch from Foundry4 on whether the public sector is doing enough with its data.

Read Is the public sector doing enough with its data?
How organisations can prepare for Breathing Space

In May 2021 all councils and other creditors are required to introduce the debt respite scheme (Breathing Space). Breathing space will freeze interest, fees and enforcement for people in problem debt, with further protections for those in mental health crisis treatment. A 60-day breathing space period will see enforcement action from creditors halted and interest frozen for people with problem debt.

Deven Ghelani was invited to speak to an audience of local authorities on a Destin Solutions webinar to talk about Breathing Space policy and what actions councils can take to proactively help their residents overcome problem debt.

Listen back to
Deven talking about Breathing Space and the impact on local authorities
Next webinar: Boost safeguarding through multi-agency data sharing
Wednesday 17 March at 10:30 to 11:45. Register here

The responsibility to safeguard vulnerable residents lies with councils and a range of safeguarding partners, but too often vulnerability is identified too late. Limited data co-ordination between organisations makes it hard not only to identify people who need support before they hit a crisis, but also to understand whether they are known to other safeguarding agencies and the wider safeguarding landscape.

Prevention is critical to improve safeguarding and we know that data needs to be more effectively shared across agencies if we are to better protect vulnerable people and reduce the potential of people falling into the social care system. This is a big challenge.

Join our webinar to hear learnings from a powerful project, backed by the LGA and NHS Digital, to link data across adult services, children’s services, public health, the NHS, Police and Fire and Rescue Services.

Join this webinar to hear:

  • How this innovative and ground-breaking approach to combining administrative datasets has created a clear view of safeguarding concerns across all partners
  • How new smart approaches to data management has tackled the security and data governance challenges
  • How the data is brought to life to help multi-agency safeguarding (MASH) teams, social workers and all frontline safeguarding teams to improve communication, liaison and decision making

With guest speaker Paul Withers, Data Protection Manager, Walsall Council.
Future webinars
All our webinars are free and run from 10.30 to 11.45

Boost safeguarding through multi-agency data sharing
Wednesday 17 March. Details and register here

Back to work: Making the most of the Restart Scheme
Wednesday 21 April. Details and register here

How local authorities can prepare for the end of the eviction ban
Wednesday 28 April. Details and register here

What we all need to know about implementing Breathing Space
Wednesday 19 May. Details and register here
People news

We are delighted to welcome Alex Clegg who joins us as Policy and Operations Analyst this month.

It is with huge thanks that we say goodbye to Dr Cara Evans, Senior Policy and Operations Analyst. Cara is taking up a senior role at ONS and we wish her the very best of luck with this exciting new role.

We are recruiting. Check out our latest new roles and find out what it's like to work at Policy in Practice here.

ICYMI: our February blog posts

What COVID-19 has taught us about the benefit system we want
COVID-19 has taught us that the benefit system we want should be simple, accessible and protect the most vulnerable residents first.
Read blog post

Is the public sector doing enough with its data?
Data is key to unlocking better services for citizens. Deven Ghelani asks if the public sector is doing enough with its data.
Read blog post

LIFT platform steering group: data insights from changing caseloads
We held our latest LIFT platform Steering Group where we welcomed many of our clients to our first online steering group.
Read blog post

Benefit and Budgeting Calculator steering group: our clients respond to the pandemic
Read what happened at our latest Benefit and Budgeting Calculator Steering Group where we were joined by many new clients, online.
Read blog post

What the closure of the SDP Gateway means for disabled people moving to Universal Credit
We explore the implications of the closure of the SDP Gateway and identify three groups who will miss out despite transitional protection.
Read blog post



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