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Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction - Privacy Notice

Who the council is and what the council does

West Oxfordshire District Council is a data controller under the Data Protection Legislation as the council collects and processes personal information about you in order to provide services and meet their statutory and regulatory obligations.

This notice explains why the council asks for your personal information, how that information will be used and how you can access your records.

Any questions regarding our privacy practices should be sent to:

Data Protection Officer (DPO)
West Oxfordshire District Council
Council Offices, Witney OX28 1NB
Tel: 01993 861194

Why the council needs your information and how the council uses it

We are legally obliged under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 to process benefits claims.

We are governed by one of two sets of regulations. For working age claimants it is governed by the “Housing Benefit Regulations 2006” and for those who have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit it is governed by the “Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006”.

The administration of Housing Benefit, requires us to process personal data about applicants
Special categories of data may be processed to enable us to apply exemptions and other reductions based on that information.

The council does not sell your personal information to anyone else.

What is the legal process for collecting and processing this data

Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018, the lawful bases we rely on for processing this information are:

Legal obligation. We are legally obliged to process this data. (A6(1)(c) of GDPR).

Special categories of data in relation to benefit applications are processed under Employment, social security and social protection law (A9(2)(b) of GDPR).

What type of information is collected from you

  • You, your partner and your non-dependents (name, address, contact details, National Insurance number, date of birth, income and capital details)
  • Your/your partner’s eligibility to remain and/or work in the UK
  • Your children (date of birth)
  • Any other members of your household (date of birth, National Insurance number and income/capital details. From 5 January 2023, your non-dependent’s earnings listed on the claim may be verified with the DWP Searchlight system to work out how much the applicant will be paid)
  • Your rent
  • Your bank account details to enable us to make payment of rent allowance directly to your account.

The above list is not exhaustive. If you don’t provide the information, you will not be able to claim Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction. You are obliged to keep the council informed of any changes in circumstances. Failure to do so could affect your benefit and may result in prosecution.

We collect this information by telephone, email, social media, writing or in person.

Who your information may be shared with (internally and externally)

Real time information is shared directly between the DWP and the council to reduce fraud and error.

We share your information with other council departments, for example Electoral Services to allow them to complete their statutory duties (as laid out in Regulations 23, 35 and 35A of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001).

We also share your information with the DWP, HMRC, your landlord where the law allows us to do this or if you have given your permission and other local authorities if relevant.

We may also use and credit reference agencies for the purpose of preventing and detecting fraud where the law allows us to do so.

The council will not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes.


Your personal information may be converted and anonymised into statistical or aggregated data in such a way that ensures that you cannot be identified from it. Anonymised data cannot, by definition, be linked back to you as an individual and may be used to conduct research and analysis, including the preparation of statistics for use in our reports.

Automated decisions

Data is automatically transferred from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) IT systems into our systems. This allows a range of means tested benefits to transfer over and removes complex, manual steps from the process to streamline it. It some situations data from the DWP systems will update claims in our system which will automatically send out a benefit decision notice.

How long the council keeps your information (retention period)

Data will be held for as long as the claim is open, or any overpayment has a balance outstanding.

Once the claim has been closed and any overpayment has been cleared the data will be held for 6 years plus the current year. Paper records will be destroyed after 6 months.

Once your data is no longer needed it will be securely and confidentially destroyed or disposed of the data in line with retention schedules.

How the council protects your information

Your data is stored securely on our systems and accessed only by authorised officers using their own username and password created in line with pre-defined user credentials. Personal data is also held in electronic files on the council’s network drives. These are only accessible through personal logon credentials and access privileges to specific drives. Access to our council sites require a personal electronic pass to access staff only areas. The council has strict procedures for the way this is done. Any and all information about you is treated as confidential and with respect. There are also clear rules and guidance about storing, recording and sharing information which staff receive training on.

If you use your credit or debit card to make payments, the council passes your card details securely to our payment processing partner as part of the payment process. The council does this in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Security Standard and does not store the details on its website. The information you give to the council when using our online payment system will only be used for the recording of your payment

The council will not transfer your personal data outside the EU without your consent.

The council have implemented generally accepted standards of technology and operational security in order to protect personal data from loss, misuse or unauthorised alteration or destruction.  

Please note however that where you are transmitting information to us over the internet this can never be guaranteed to be 100% secure.  

The council will notify you promptly in the event of any breach of your personal data which might expose you to serious risk.

Your rights

You have the following rights under the Data Protection legislations:

  • To access your personal data
  • To be provided with information about how your personal data is processed
  • To have your personal data corrected
  • To have your personal data erased in certain circumstances
  • To object to or restrict how your personal data is processed
  • To have your personal data transferred to yourself or to another business in certain circumstances
  • To be told if the council have made a mistake whilst processing your data and the council will self-report breaches to the Commissioner.

How you can access, update or correct your information

The Data Protection law gives you the right to apply for a copy of information about yourself. This is called a ‘Subject Access Request'.

If you wish to see a copy of your records you should contact the Data Protection Officer. You are entitled to receive a copy of your records free of charge, within a month.

In certain circumstances access to your records may be limited, for example, if the records you have asked for contain information relating to another person.

The accuracy of your information is important to us to be able to provide relevant services more quickly. The council is working to make our record keeping more efficient. In the meantime, if you change your address or email address, or if any of your circumstances change or any of the other information the council holds is inaccurate or out of date, please email us or write to us at:

Housing Benefit
West Oxfordshire District Council
Council Offices, Witney OX28 1NB

Further information

If you would like to know more about how the council uses your information, or if for any reason you do not wish to have your information used in any of the ways described in this privacy notice, please contact the Data Protection Officer at

For more information about data protection please visit:

If you are concerned about the way the council is handling your personal information you can contact the Information Commissioner (ICO): 

The council reserve the right to update this privacy notice from time to time by publishing a new version on our website.