Lewisham Council has created an additional £1.2m for school funds across the London borough in a pilot opt-out data exercise.
Data analysis crossing over several services within the council identified over 500 families living in Lewisham who were eligible for pupil funding, but who had not applied to receive it. Keeping in line with GDPR procedures, the families were informed that they were potentially eligible and that the council would apply on their behalf unless they decided to opt-out of the auto-enrolment process.
Council services within Education, IT, Revenues and Benefits and Communications were pulled together in a short period of time to ensure that the applications were completed before the autumn school census cut-off date of 5 October.
The extra £1.2m will be allocated directly to the schools who have the identified families on their roll.
The council said the whole exercise cost under £800 in postage costs, which means every £1 spent generated £1500. Following its success, the pilot project will be expanded and developed for other services that might benefit from an opt-out approach.
Cllr Chris Barnham, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "Our schools are seeing every day how difficult the cost of living crisis is for families. We’re doing what we can to help as a local council but with the cuts from central government, there’s a limit on how much we can do.
"That’s why this kind of innovation and creative approach is so important - cutting through red tape and doing everything we can to make sure our children and families get the help they’re entitled to. It’s also fantastic to discover how much more funding our schools are entitled to because of this project.”