Housing Benefit - 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 in order to provide Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support services and meet our statutory 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
The Council uses the information in order to administer Housing Benefit under the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 and associated Regulations and the Council Tax Support scheme under S13A and Schedule 1a of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and associated Regulations.
We collect information to assess your claim for Housing Benefit. We also use it to check your ongoing entitlement.
We may also use your contact details in the event that we need to contact you in relation to your claim.
We may use your information to help collect debts like Council Tax and recover housing benefits overpayment.
The Council has a duty to protect public funds the Council administers, and may use information held about you for all lawful purposes, including and not limited to the prevention and detection of fraud, matching council tax data with electoral registration records and protecting public funds in investigating misuse of public money.
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:
- UK GDPR Article 6 (1) (a) Consent – consent has been given by the data subject, yourself, for the lawful processing of your personal data.
- UK GDPR Article 6 (1) (c) Legal Obligation – we collect and lawfully process your personal data in accordance with the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and statutory legislations.
- UK GDPR Article 6 (1) (e) Public Task – we collect and lawfully process your personal data as it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in us.
What type of information is collected from you
Personal details may include:
- You, your partner and your non-dependants (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-dependant’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.
Your information will be collected by telephone, email, social media, in writing or in person.
The above list is not exhaustive. The Council will only ask for personal information that is appropriate to enable us to deliver our services. In some cases you can refuse to provide your details if you deem a request to be inappropriate. However, you should note that, this may impact on our ability to provide some services to you.
Who your information may be shared with (internally and externally)
We will not normally share your information with organisations without your consent. However the Council will use the information for the purpose of performing any of its statutory enforcement duties. We will make any disclosures required by law and may also share this information with other bodies responsible for detecting/preventing fraud or auditing/administering public funds.
- Internal council departments who require access to your information for the purpose of administration, regulation and law enforcement. From time to time we may share your information with other council departments if the law allows us to do so.
- Your landlord: we do not contact your landlord about your claim, but if you get Housing Benefit paid direct to a landlord, we give those details about payment dates and amounts to your landlord. If you have agreed above that the Council can give information about the progress of your claim to your landlord, we can tell them where your claim is up to if they ask. We may also ask you to fill in a claim form to make a fresh statement of your circumstances. If we do this, we may tell your landlord. If you previously didn't agree to us sharing information about the progress of your claim with your landlord, but you change your mind after you have sent us your claim sheet, please tell us in writing that you now agree to share that information.
- If you are a private tenant, we usually have to give the Valuation Office Agency Rent Service details about your home and rent.
- Police - From time to time we get requests from the police to for information that will assist them in investigating and preventing crime. We can share your information with the police if the law allows us to.
- The council has a legal duty to submit information to the government as part of the National Fraud Initiative (NFI). You can read about the type of information we have to disclose to them on the National Fraud Initiative website.
- HM Revenue & Customs – We have a statutory duty under schedule 23 of the Finance Act 2011 to submit returns to the HMRC.
- Housing Options Team
- Department for Work and Pensions
- Corporate Fraud Unit
- We may share your data with other agencies or organisations for the purposes of helping with household bills – see www.westoxon.gov.uk/council-tax-and-benefits/help-if-you-re-struggling-with-living-costs for the various schemes currently available.
- We may also share your data with other agencies or organisations where the law allows us to do so and for the prevention and detection of fraud and/or crime including but not limited to:
- Other local authorities
- His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service
Your information will not be disclosed to any other organisations, except where the council is required and allowed to by law, to safeguard public safety and in risk of harm or emergency situations.
The Council will not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes.
Your personal information may be converted (‘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.
Some of our processes involve automated decisions, these decisions are made either as part of our annual uprating processes before a new financial year or following information provided to us from the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP). As with all decisions we make, you will be notified in writing and you should let us know if you think this decision is incorrect.
Electronic Communications Direction
The legislation that allows the use of electronic communications for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support, Discretionary Housing Payment requests. The regulations also set out various other conditions that must be satisfied in order that an electronic communication may be accepted.
How long the Council keeps your information (retention period)
Your data will be held for as long as your claim is open, or any overpayment has a balance outstanding. Once your claim has been closed and any overpayment has been cleared your data will be held for six years plus the current year. 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.
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:
West Oxfordshire District Council
Council Offices, Witney, OX28 1NB
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about data protection please visit: www.westoxon.gov.uk/about-the-council/council-data-and-information/data-protection/
If you are concerned about the way the Council is handling your personal information you can contact the Information Commissioner (ICO): https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/
The Council reserve the right to update this privacy notice from time to time by publishing a new version on our website.