Benefits - Privacy notice
Who the Council is and what the Council does
The Council is a data controller under the Data Protection Legislation as the Council collects and processes personal information about you 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 information the Council collects 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 Support claim.
The Council uses the information in order to administer Housing Benefit under the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 and associated Regulations.
The Council uses the information in order to administer our Council Tax Support scheme under S13A and Schedule 1a of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and associated Regulations.
The Council will use the information to make you liable (if appropriate) for Council Tax at your address.
The Council may use your information to help collect debts like Council Tax.
The Council may use the information held to assist in the recovery of Housing Benefit Overpayments.
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.
In order to calculate Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, the Council collects information about, you, your partner, your children and other adults that live in your household.
This information includes; name, address, date of birth, National Insurance Number, earned income, benefits and allowances, bank accounts, savings, investments, property ownership, rent paid, landlord details, immigration details and any other information required to calculate your Housing Benefit and or Council Tax Support.
What type of information is collected from you
In order to administer our services we collect the following information from you:
- telephone number
- National Insurance Number
- bank details
- Passport Information
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)
By law, the Council must give out some information if the Council is asked - for example by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue & Customs.
The Council is required by law to participate in National Fraud Initiative (NFI) data matching exercises and housing benefit and council tax support information may be provided to the Cabinet Office for NFI purposes and will be used for cross-system and cross-authority comparison for the prevention and detection of fraud.
The Council will also use the information for the purpose of performing any of its statutory enforcement duties. It 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. The Council may share the details with other organisations that handle public funds and assist in the processing of other benefits.
The Council does not contact your landlord about your claim, but if you get Housing Benefit paid direct to a landlord, the Council just gives 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, the Council can tell them where your claim is up to if they ask.
The Council may also ask you to fill in a claim form to make a fresh statement of your circumstances. If the Council do this, the Council may tell your landlord too.
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, the Council usually has to give the Valuation Office Agency Rent Service details about your home and rent.
The Council can share information collected as part of your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support applications with other services in the Council, other Local Authorities the Department for Work and Pensions and, in some circumstances, your landlord and other organisations.
How information about you will be used
The information the Council holds, including details of any social security benefits you may get, can only be shared for the following reasons:
To help with an application for another council service - If you apply for one or more of the following;
- Disabled Facilities Grant
- Discretionary Housing Payment
The information held by the council as part of your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support application can be shared with and used by other council services to:
- help decide whether you qualify for help and how much, if anything, you should pay
- help identify and support people who are at risk of becoming homeless
- help identify families who may benefit from the Troubled Families Programme
- help people living in a Council or Housing Association property and who will be affected by the Benefit Cap and/or Under Occupation in the Social sector (by telling another part of the Council or your landlord, they will be able to advise you what you should do next and provide you with any assistance they can).
- Help people with welfare and financial advice and/or assistance to prevent eviction or legal actions.
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)
Council tax has retention schedules in place to ensure that information is only held for as long as it is needed. We will not keep your information for longer than is required to by law. Your information will be disposed of in a controlled and secure manner in accordance with the Council’s Policy. The council’s IT security and confidentiality policies ensure that your information is protected and accessed only by staff directly involved in your case.
How the Council protects your Information
All the information The Council collects is stored securely on our IT system and manual filing systems. 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. The Council has implemented generally accepted standards of technology and operational security in order to protect personal data from loss, misuse, or unauthorised alteration or destruction.
The Council will not transfer your personal data outside the EU without your consent.
Please note however that where you are transmitting information to us over the internet this can never be guaranteed to be 100% secure.
For any payments which the Council takes from you online the Council will use a recognised online secure payment system. 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 notify you promptly in the event of any breach of your personal data which might expose you to serious risk.
You have 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 has 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 Legislation allows you to find out what information is held about you, on paper and computer records. This is known as ‘right of subject access’ and applies to your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support data along with all other personal records.
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 our 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 provide information via the online portal, email us or write to:
Revenues and Benefits Service
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 here, please tell us and contact the Data Protection Officer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also complain to the Information Commissioner.
The Council reserves the right to update this privacy notice from time to time by publishing a new version on our Council website.