Public Services > Devolved

Scotland consults on public bodies’ data sharing powers

David Bicknell Published 15 December 2017

The Scottish government says it wants public bodies in Scotland to be able to use data sharing powers set out in Part 5 of the Digital Economy Act


The Scottish government is going out to consultation on devolved data sharing powers set out in Part 5 of the Digital Economy Act.

The consultation , which runs until February 5 next year, follows the Digital Economy Act receiving its Royal Assent earlier this year. The Act introduces new information sharing powers “to support more efficient and effective digital public services” which the Scottish government would like public bodies in Scotland to be able to use. 

In an accompanying note about the consultation, the Scottish government said the UK government had recently consulted on draft regulations, with the consultation setting out four specific objectives for which data would be able to be shared under public service delivery provisions.

The four objectives are: multiple disadvantages, where individuals or households may be adversely be suffering from several issues such as antisocial behaviour, disability, domestic violence; television retuning; fuel poverty; and water poverty, though the water poverty provisions do not apply in Scotland.  

Although the Digital Economy Act has been passed, the Act does not contain a list of devolved “Scottish bodies” which means the Scottish Parliament has to approve separate regulations. The consultation points out that in order to be able to use the data sharing provisions in the Act a Scottish public body needs to demonstrate an express need to share data with another body for the purpose of delivering a specified public service.

The Scottish government says it must specify any devolved Scottish bodies that would be able to make use of the data sharing powers outlined in the Digital Economy Act, while the UK government must also specify which specified objectives are relevant to the relevant specified authorities.  

Earlier this week it also emerged that the Scottish government is also pressing ahead with plans to develop a common public sector approach to online identity assurance , as part of digital public services. Early in the New Year, it plans to carry out a future technical discovery that will weigh merits of ‘myaccount’, GOV.UK Verify and other emerging technologies. 

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