Coping with a lack of data and data sharing

Many authorities mentioned a lack of information and data as potentially hampering their ability to tackle poverty in their area. Data was often described as difficult to gather, or having a considerable time-lag which, given the fast pace of the reform programme, made responding difficult.

In response to a lack of information about services, mapping projects were often proposed as one solution to both identify services and service gaps.

In response to a lack of data about needs, food banks and grass roots organisations were described as potential sources of on-the-ground data.

Stockport’s use of foodbank data

In Stockport at the Child Poverty Strategy Group we look at a quarterly report from the Stockport Foodbank. This has enabled us over the last 12 months since its inception to look at the volumes of families who have received food and most importantly the reasons why.

Foodbanks that have been set up under the Trussell Trust can give easily the following information:

  • who has made the referral;
  • which wards of the borough the people live in;
  • reason for need, this includes data on benefit delays, low income, debt and refusal of crisis loans;
  • age range;
  • family size, this includes singles, families, single parents and couple data.

By regularly assessing these, we have seen the increase in numbers quarter on quarter. It also gives us some examples and case studies of the people that my advice staff refer.   

With thanks to Sue Baker, Stockport Council

The Broughton Trust, an example of grass roots organisations and data

Part of our remit as support workers (at the Broughton Trust) is to provide information, advice and guidance and recently we have had many of our service users approaching us for help with benefit changes, during this process a large number of individuals spoke to us in details about the effects of the changes to their day to day lives. Many are suffering from anxiety and are fearful of how the changes will affect them this is leading to health problems and depression.

We at The Broughton Trust, started to record what our clients were telling us as and when the changes to their benefits started to take effect. We also noted their increasing fears as they believe it is going to put them in a more disadvantaged place and they already think they’re in a bad place as it is…’

They have case studies they can share, but importantly for other organisations, have some data about who is being affected and why. For example, ‘we have also dealt with ESOL learners being sanctioned on JSA as they don’t have great understanding of the action they must do for the job search’.

We also run a food bank where we record why and when a person has had to use it.

With thanks to Tina Tudor from the Broughton Trust