Housing Benefit is a national benefit to help you pay your rent if you are on a low income. It is funded by Central Government but administered locally by us. Council Tax Support is a local scheme, based on similar criteria to Housing Benefit, to help people on a low income, in or out of work, or in receipt of state benefits. Discretionary Housing Payments and Exceptional Hardship Fund Payments are extra payments made at our discretion to help people in receipt of Housing Benefit, Universal Credit or Council Tax Support who are in serious financial difficulty.
Processing activity - in order to provide the service, it is necessary for us to collect and hold personal information about you. The information collected and held will vary and depend on the nature of the service. In general terms, we process personal information relating to:
- award of benefit/support
- recovery of overpayments
- calculation of entitlement(s)
- discretionary payment(s)
- investigating and if applicable, prosecuting for fraudulent activity
- pre-employment checks which include identity, unspent criminal convictions and right to work as a minimum
Information requirements - our processing activities may include:
- full name
- address including postcode
- date of birth
- telephone number
- email address
- National Insurance Number
- employer details
- income details
- financial details
- health information
- expenditure details
- Power of Attorney details
- information relating to other persons in your household
Lawful bases1- our lawful bases for processing your personal information are:
UK GDPR Article 6(1)(c):
- our legal obligation(s) under the Local Government Finance Act 1992
- our legal obligation(s) under the Social Security Administration Act 1992
- our legal obligation(s) under the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001
- our legal obligation(s) under the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006
- our legal obligation(s) under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (Default Scheme) Regulations 2012
- our legal obligations(s) under the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020)
UK GDPR Article 6(1)(e) & s.8(c) DPA 2018 - where needed for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest (under the above legislation)
UK GDPR Article 9(2)(b) - processing is necessary for the purposes of carrying out the obligations and exercising specific rights of the controller or of the data subject in the field of employment and social security and social protection law and DPA 2018, s10(1)(a), Schedule 1, Part 1, para.1.
UK GDPR Article 9(2)(g) and DPA 2018, s10(1)(b), Schedule 1, Part 2, para.6(1) & (2)(a)) -special category personal data - where processing is necessary for the reasons of substantial public interest
UK GDPR Article 10 as supplemented by DPA 2018 section 10(5) & Schedule 1, Part 2, paras. 6(1) and (2)(a)) - (criminal convictions and offences) - where processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest
We have a Data Protection Policy that sets out how this information will be handled.
Joint Data Controller - the administration of housing benefit and council tax support, including discretionary housing payments and exceptional hardship fund payments is undertaken by us jointly with Sevenoaks District Council under a collaborative partnership arrangement. We decide together all the purposes for using the personal information that we share and we decide together the broad ways in which that personal information will be used. On occasion, in accordance with section 6(2) of the Data Protection Act 2018, we may be prevented from sharing and/or delegating the exercise of our functions, thereby requiring us to exercise our functions as a sole data controller.
Data processors - We use Post Office Payout to process our housing support fund payments and Meritec Limited to process Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction claims. Our data processors are only permitted to process your personal information in accordance with our written instructions.
Data sharing - some of the information we hold about you may come from third party sources such as the Department of Work and Pensions and the Electoral Registration Officer. We may share your information with partner organisations that inspect or handle public funds, to prevent and detect fraud and error including:
- council department(s)
- other local authorities
- Cabinet Office (as part of the National Fraud Initiative)
- National Audit Office
- credit reference agencies
- health and social care organisations
- social housing providers
The Insolvency Service may share your information with us (pursuant to the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020). As a creditor, if we are told by the Insolvency Service that a debt owed by you is in a breathing space, we must stop all action related to that debt and apply the protections. These protections must stay in place until the breathing space ends.
We share with and use enforcement agents during the course of enforcing overpayments of housing benefit If you have given us your permission in writing, some of your information may be shared with:
- a named friend or family member
- your landlord
- support worker or other individual authorised by you to act on your behalf
We subscribe to a tracing system called LoCTA which allows us to search a subset of all subscribing local authorities’ revenues systems to trace and provide up to date information on individuals. Your information is inputted into LoCTA and shared with other local authorities.We also subscribe to a search and trace system called Retriever provided by TransUnion, for up to date information on individuals.
HMRC: We may share with and receive from HMRC, information relating to Tax Credits, Child Benefit or Guardian’s Allowance, for use in the administration of HB (Schedule 5 to the Tax Credits Act 2002). Where we detect suspicious behaviours of fraud and/or crime across our functions, we have may receive from and share information with HMRC, pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding with HMRC (Customer Compliance Group – RIS Intelligence, Volume Intelligence, Intelligence Exchange).
DWP: A Memorandum of Understanding between us and the DWP sets out the framework and operating policy through which we will access and use DWP data that is provided to us by the DWP.
As a housing benefit (HB)and council tax benefit (CTB) administering authority, our legal gateways for receiving and sharing information under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (as amended) (SSAA) and the Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services, etc.) Regulations 2012 (2012 Regs) are:
- Section 7B of the SSAA provides for us to use social security information we hold in relation to HB for certain advice and take up activities in relation to HB and some other DWP benefit;
- Section 122C of the SSAA allows DWP to provide social security information to us, and to organisations carrying out functions on our behalf (i.e. service providers), for the purposes of: administering HB prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of offences relating to HB (and in some circumstances, DWP social security benefits) and verification of, amending or supplementing HB information (fraud and verification). In some circumstances where DWP obtained the information for fraud and verification purposes its use by us is limited to fraud on HB and DWP benefits and verification of HB information (there are restrictions on disclosure);
- Section 122D of the SSAA allows DWP to require us to provide ‘relevant benefit information’ to it for any purpose relating to social security and certain other functions. DWP can also require ‘benefit policy information’ for estimating future expenditure and developing policy in relation to any relevant social security benefit (including HB), and for planning in relation to a limited number of other functions;
- Section 122E of the SSAA allows us to share ‘relevant benefit information’ with another authority administering HB or CTB, for fraud and verification purposes;
- Section 131 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (as amended) and the 2012 Regs allow us to share or use social security data for purposes related to welfare services, social security, and council tax.
DWP is the sole data controller for the personal data it holds, which has been obtained from claimants and others for the purpose of administering a social security benefit. We are the sole data controller for the personal data we hold, which has been obtained from claimants and others, including the information obtained from DWP for the purpose of administering HB. This also applies to information we hold in relation to prescribed welfare services, and certain other purposes such as local council tax support.
See the DWP’s Personal information Charter.
Exemptions: We may also rely on a number of exemptions, which allow us to share information without needing to comply with all the rights and obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018. Please refer to the Kent and Medway Information Agreement for further details on our sharing arrangements.
Call recording - all incoming calls are recorded via NetCall. If we call you (an out-bound call), you will be informed if the conversation is to be recorded and the reasons for recording. Please refer to our Call Recording Privacy Notice.
Retention period - we keep your personal information for the minimum period necessary. The information outlined in this Privacy Notice will be kept after all action on your claim has finished and the period required by us for legal and audit purposes has expired, unless exceptional circumstances require longer retention eg: a pending court case. All information will be held securely and disposed of confidentially.
Automated decision making - we may make automated decisions concerning your entitlement. The automated decisions are time-related changes to your entitlement (eg: a change to your local housing allowance rate due to a child reaching a certain age) or income-related information received directly from certain partner organisations (eg: HM Revenue and Customs). You have a right of appeal against our automated decision-making.
Anonymisation - 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. Aggregated 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.
Right to object - where processing your personal information is required for the performance of a public interest task (see our lawful bases above), you have the right to object on ‘grounds relating to your particular situation’. We will have to demonstrate why it is appropriate for us to continue to use your personal data.
Please refer to our Corporate Privacy Notice for further details of how we process your personal information and for details on your additional rights.
1 Note that we may process your personal information on more than one lawful basis depending on the specific purpose for which we are using your information
GDPR Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support including Discretionary Housing Payments (HB) and Exceptional Hardship Fund Payments (CTS) Privacy Notice