According to a report by the Local Government Association, four years ago somebody at Sefton Council asked: "Why can't we use Department for Work and Pensions benefits information to inform social care assessments?"
It might not be a great opening line at a cocktail party. However, the question is a reasonable and important one. The good news is that as a result of the Welfare Reform Act, councils can now access DWP information for use in social services. A group of councils in the north west iNetwork calculate this change will save councils £75 million a year nationally.
It also means that those in need of help can obtain it faster and with a lower bureaucratic burden.
This data sharing will also be crucial to the work local councils are undertaking to identify – and then turn around – troubled families.