Councils to be given access to "poor households'" benefit records. Just because. No consent. They can then share them with others.
The civil servant who thinks she can fix troubled families
For the first time, local councils will be allowed "without informed consent" to access benefit records. The idea is to build up a map of troubled families – which will be shared with other agencies such as the police, GPs and housing associations.
Casey, a self-confessed Guardian
reader, believes that, for all the liberal hand-wringing over the prospect of a too-powerful state assaulting civil liberties, more lives are blighted by the erosion of authority than by its extension. "We need to find out what is happening in relation to all of the data. I don't think that is about someone's civil rights. I think it's about their right to get help and the system's right to challenge them to take it."
In fact, Casey's unit is the culmination of 20 years' drift rightwards in social policy. She has little time for academics who claim there is no link between poverty and crime. Troubled families, she says, are leading to a collapse of the communities they live in.
"If you have such a high proportion of these problems [little cash, mental health problems, poor housing], you are disproportionately more likely not to be in school, more likely to be involved in crime, more likely to be workless."
She recalls how she came to the conclusion that spending cash on prettifying estates did little to help change people's lives – they simply carried on with destructive lifestyles in nicer surroundings. As head of the Labour government's antisocial behaviour unit she would turn up to housing estates that had just been "renovated" and find "small people wandering the housing estate".
She recalls: "I am counting the number of kids wandering around, and wondering what the hell they are all doing there. I realised then [that] we needed to get through [people's] front doors early and that you could not just ignore behaviour ... If that makes me politically incorrect so be it. I think it is the right thing to do."