The Cabinet Office's Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) has today published the Government’s response to the public consultation on data sharing to support early learning and childcare in Scotland.
In January 2022, the UK Government in partnership with the Scottish Government consulted on draft regulations to enable data sharing to target funded early learning and childcare (ELC) for certain 2 year olds in Scotland. The consultation set out draft regulations to allow data sharing between HMRC, DWP, the Scottish Government and Scottish local authorities in order to help identify and contact households that have a 2 year old eligible for funded early learning and childcare. The regulations would create an objective for the purpose of which relevant data may be shared under section 35 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (otherwise known as the “public service delivery power”).
There were 69 responses during the 8 week consultation period. Responses were decidedly positive. A clear majority of respondents agreed that the proposed data share would improve and target a service to eligible households and improve their wellbeing. Respondents also agreed that the data sharing would deliver tangible benefits to households, including early stage support to promote education, health and social equalities.
Importantly, the majority of respondents agreed that the personal data items to be shared - specifically including the customer (parent or carer) name, address and National Insurance number (for unique identification), as well as a child(ren) indicator to confirm the existence of a child, or children - is limited to what is necessary and consistent with ELC service delivery.
The UK Government is reassured that the responses are broadly positive and welcome the helpful input from respondents. As the Scottish Parliament can only approve proposals for new objectives which solely involve specified Scottish bodies permitted to make use of the public service delivery power, and the proposed objective would involve disclosure and processing of data held by UK departments (HMRC and DWP), the draft regulations must be taken through the UK Parliament by the UK Government. The UK Government will take forward legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.
I have asked that the government response be deposited in the libraries of both Houses in Parliament and published on GOV.UK.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords