The BBC will soon be able to access TV viewers' social security information, thanks to a Bill that's just been passed by parliament. The Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information) Bill gives the BBC information about vulnerable groups in society so the corporation can help them with the transition from analogue to digital TV.

The Department for Work and Pensions will hand over the social security information as part of a £600 million pound scheme that will provide practical help to the over-75s and those on disability benefits. Around seven million households are expected to qualify for help between now and 2012.

The move has the backing of the Digital Switchover Consumer Experts Group, which comprises leading elderly and disability charities including Help The Aged and the Royal National Institute for the Blind .