Powerful though it may be, the UK government readily admits that it's unable to complete even "simple tasks" that require the sharing of data between different departments. Part of the problem, it claims, is down to the various databases that each government department controls. Because there's no complete picture of what's going on, no-one can act swiftly enough to fix a problem before it takes hold. Back in April, however, the cabinet's data sharing policy team proposed a plan that would see local authorities, emergency services, schools and government departments merge all of their databases. The resulting information could then be mined "big data" style to provide more accurate information for policymakers and target help towards those in need.

Another claimed benefit of the plan would be to save up to £37 billion ($62 billion) in waste, fraud and error, by not sending cash out to people who have recently died and then having to claw it back. It's also hoped that because the government will be able to understand a person's whole life, it can help them with their money worries. If, for instance, they owed cash to multiple departments, the payments would be structured as to be manageable on a low income. All of this is just a proposed policy, and the Government will now take people's views to understand if they support the plan. Of course, privacy campaigners are going to be outraged at the news, but let's be honest -- it's not as if government operatives have ever left laptops full of public records in pubs or anything.