A Cabinet Office spokesman writes...
Gordon Pryra (26 June, 08:49): How exactly is this good for me?
In the statement he gave to reporters yesterday, the Cabinet Secretary gave a few examples of the benefits of storing and sharing information:
"The Government does not compel or request the data of citizens for its own sake. It is done to enable us to deliver better the services citizens pay for in tax. Let me give you some examples. A single department, the Department for Work and Pensions, has 20 million customers. It undertakes some 13 million payments every week.
"Efficient, electronic use of personal data is good for citizens. Each week the police and courts services make 4,500 enquiries to the secure online Drivers Database, reducing the number of case adjournments by 80% and saving police officers up to two hours of paperwork every time they carry out a roadside check. By joining up the data held by MOT garages, the insurance industry and the DVLA allowed 7.5 million people to renew their car tax online in 06/07. By December 07 this number had risen to almost 10 million, and the majority of applications are outside office hours.
"Within HMRC itself there were 3 million online filings of self-assessment tax forms in 2006/07, increasing efficiency and slashing the amount of paper used.
"The Tell Us Once initiative we are currently pursuing will take this further. It will join up public agencies so, for example, you only need to inform one department or agency if, for example, a relative dies, rather than more than 30 who currently need to be told."