Who are we and what do we do?
The information we collect and the information provided to us by the Department for Work and Pensions is required for the calculation of your Housing Benefit and or Council Tax Reduction claim as well as any potential entitlement to free school meals.
What type of personal data do we collect and how do we collect it?
We may collect the following types of Personal Data:
- Your name
- Contact details (postal address, telephone number, email address etc.)
- Date of Birth
- National Insurance number
- Financial information (including earnings and benefits information)
- Bank accounts
- Savings, investments and property ownership
- Marital status
- Household details
- Rent details
- Landlord details
- Payee details (i.e. to whom you would like Housing Benefit to be paid to)
- Disability details
- Any other information required to calculate your Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction of Free School meals
We may collect your Personal Data in a number of ways, for example:
- When you make an online application for Housing Benefit and / or Council Tax Reduction
- When you make an application for free school meals for your children
- When you contact us directly either via telephone or email;
- When you report a change in your circumstances online
- When the Department for Work and Pensions provides us with information in relation to your state benefits
How the law allows us to use your personal information
We have a legal obligation to process your information, data in these instances will have been freely provided by you. All processing will also be carried our as part of our Public Task.
Government departments have a duty in connection to a welfare benefit claim to ensure correct entitlement awarded therefore need to process your information for this purpose.
We also have a legal obligation in respect of any fraudulent activity.
What is your personal data used for?
- To administer housing benefit claims
- To administer applications for council tax reduction
- To administer applications for free school meals
- To ensure council tax and business rates liabilities are correct and kept up to date
- To award any exemptions, discounts and reliefs relating to council tax and business rates
- To ensure recovery of housing benefit overpayments is carried out correctly
- To ensure that the information we hold about you is kept up-to-date;
- To deal with any problems or complaints that arise in relation to your account;
- To prevent, detect and prosecute fraud where appropriate;
- Most of the personal information we hold is provided by you in your application for housing benefit, council tax reduction or free school meals and the supporting information you include with it.
- We may need to verify certain information in relation to your income. Where necessary, we will do this by verifying your information with the Department for Work and Pensions (if you receive state benefits) or contact you directly to verify any details we are unable to establish with them.
Will your personal data be shared?
To process your application we share information under our legal obligations and with partner organisations, including;
- Government departments in connection to a welfare benefit claim
- The Department for Work and Pensions
- On occasions, your information may be accessed by contracted IT support organisations in the delivery of IT support. Access by IT support will only be provided for such reasons as fixing any technical issues with software, and any viewing of data will be incidental to this
Subject to a legal gateway, your information may also be shared for the prevention of fraud and criminal activity with (this list is not exhaustive):
- The Police
- Health and Social Care organisations
- The Office for National Statistics
We will not normally share your information with organisations other than our partner organisations without your consent. However, there may be certain circumstances where we would share without consent, such as where we are required to do so by law, to safeguard public safety or if there is a risk of harm or in emergency situations. If this does apply, any information which is shared will only be shared on a need to know basis with appropriate individuals.
Your information will also be shared with the Office for National Statistics as part of an information sharing agreement for its use regarding statutory functions
How do we keep your personal data secure?
The security of your personal information is important to us. This is why we follow a range of security policies and procedures to control and safeguard access to and use of your personal information.
Examples of our security include:
- Access is restricted to specific role types within the department
- Applications have their own user logon / security process
- The devices are connected to the Council network by a windows network account
- Access restrictions are set in place using firewall rules
- A documented leaver process is used to withdraw access should someone leave the department
- Controlling access to systems and networks allows us to stop people who are not allowed to view your personal information from getting access to it
- Training for our staff allows us to make them aware of how to handle information and how and when to report when something goes wrong
Regular testing of our technology and ways of working including keeping up to date on the latest security updates
How long will we keep your personal data?
After we deliver a service to you, we have to keep your information as a business record of what was delivered. The type of service will determine how long we have to keep it. Our corporate retention guidelines show how long we will keep it for different services. This ranges from months for some records to decades for more sensitive records.
The retention periods for this service are as follows:
- The records held regarding your Council Tax liability will be kept for 6 years
- The records held regarding your Housing Benefit and Free School Meals applications will be kept for 6 years after your claim has been closed
Is your personal data processed overseas?
The Council will not process your information overseas, however it may be necessary if requested by an external organisation under a legal requirement or at your request. In any event we would ensure that your information is safe.
At no time will your information be passed to organisations external to us and our partners for marketing or sales purposes or for any commercial use without your prior express consent.
What are your information rights?
Your Information Rights are set out in law and, subject to some exceptions, you have the:
- Right to rectification - to ask for information to be corrected
- Right to erasure - to have your personal data deleted
- Right to object - to how your data is used
- Right to restriction - to request limits on how your data is used
- Right to portability - to request that we move your data to another organisation
- Right of subject access - to request a copy of data the Council holds about you
Making a complaint
If you have a concerns about the way we are collecting or using your personal data, you should raise your concern with us in the first instance or directly to the Information Commissioner's Office. Visit the website of the Information Commissioner's Office.