About the project 

National and local government departments and services collect and hold information about families, such as taxation, medical records, pupil data, police records. These different data sources can be linked together and used operationally through the application of algorithms to identify individual families for service intervention, with data linkage and analysis carried out in-house or outsourced to private data analytic companies.

On the one hand, data linkage and analytics offer more efficient public services based on predictive risk modelling to pre-empt problems, and targeting for enhanced outcomes. On the other hand, issues have been raised about data security, consent, deterring parents from using services, and the extent of public acceptance and trust – known as social licence.

This study fills a vital gap in knowledge about the dynamics of social licence and trust for operational data linkage and analytics among parents of dependent children, in a context where policy developments, and data linkage and analytics practices to inform services interventions may be moving ahead of public knowledge and consent.

Funding body

This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under grant number ES/T001623/1.


Co-directors: Professor Ros Edwards (Southampton) and Professor Val Gilles (Westminster)

Find out more on the project website.