Government Gave Supermarkets Vulnerable People's Data. Councils Need It – And Can't Get It

Rachel Wearmouth

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Data on 1.5m vulnerable people handed to supermarkets amid the coronavirus crisis has not been shared with councils on the front line, HuffPost UK understands. 

When panic buying swept the country, the government waived data restrictions and passed on details of those most at risk from the disease to grocery giants such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s. 

The aim was to ensure the “extremely clinically vulnerable”, who are on strict lockdown, did not run short of essentials and were first in line for home deliveries. 

Local authorities, whose social care workers and volunteers want to target food parcels and support at the most vulnerable, were promised they too could have the vital data. 

But emails between council chiefs, seen by HuffPost UK, suggest this has yet to happen, some two weeks after it was promised.

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said: “Our councils are on the front line delivering support to our vulnerable friends and family – but to do this essential work, all of our councils need access to the data that was promised by the government.

“Whilst some councils are still unable to access this vital information, the government has given access to supermarkets and others.” 

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, Labour leader on the Local Government Association, said the block was a barrier on the ground. 

“Despite repeated promises from government that councils would get comprehensive information about people being shielded, most councils are still only getting partial or incomplete data,” he said. 

“We don’t know who has requested support, whether they need food or medicines urgently, or whether they have any dietary or religious requirements.

“At the same time, every council has set up a local hub to coordinate requests for help from local residents with the army of volunteers coming forward.


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