Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction & Discretionary Awards Privacy Notice (Milton Keynes Council)

 

This Privacy Notice works in conjunction with Milton Keynes Council’s Corporate Privacy Notice

Who we are and what we do?

Milton Keynes Council’s Revenues and Benefits Service, uses and holds personal information to administer Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reductions, Discretionary Housing Payments and Local Welfare Provision awards.

Why we need your information and how we use it

If you approach the Council for help we will need to process your information to to decide if we can award Housing Benefit, a Council Tax Reduction claim, a Discretionary Housing Payments or Local Welfare Provision award and if so, how much the award should be.

If you have claimed a means tested benefit, such as Jobseekers Allowance (income based) or Universal Credit from the Department of Work and Pensions they may share information with us. We will use this information to assess your entitlement to an award.  

Everything we do has to comply with the data protection regulations and laws governing what we do, for example;

We may also use the information we collect about you and your household to;

  • to check the data we hold about you is accurate and up to date
  • To compare it against other information to protect public funds, help combat fraud and crime
  • Make you liable (if appropriate) for Council Tax at your address
  • Recover any part of the award/s that is incorrectly made.
  • To help us confirm your identity when you contact us or access our services
  • To produce statistics

What information do we hold?

In order to calculate Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, or decide if a Discretionary Housing Payment or Local Welfare Provision award is appropriate, we collect information about, you, your partner, your children and other people that live in your household.

This information includes;

  • Name,
  • Address,
  • Date of birth,
  • National Insurance Number,
  • Income, such as earnings, benefits, allowances, grants
  • Savings and capital, such as bank accounts, savings accounts, investments, property ownership.
  • Rent due and what it includes.
  • Property details, such as the number of rooms in your home.
  • Who else lives in your home and their relationship to you.
  • Landlord details,
  • Immigration status to help us decide if you have a right to access public funds
  • Disabilities and health issues that affect the amount of help and financial assistance you require.
  • Any other information required to calculate your Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or decide if a Discretionary Housing Payment or Local Welfare Provision award is appropriate.

The information we collect is recorded in paper files, in databases and in electronic folders on Milton Keynes Council’s secure network where it is accessible only to staff who need to see it to do their jobs

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

By law we must give out some information if we are asked - for example by

  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

We are required by law to participate in National Fraud Initiative (NFI) data matching exercises and housing benefit and council tax reduction 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.

We 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.  We may share the details with other organisations that handle public funds and assist in the processing of other benefits.

We do not contact your landlord about your claim, but if you get Housing Benefit paid direct to a landlord, we will give your landlord information about when they will be paid and the amount of Housing Benefit that is to be paid to them on your behalf.

If you have agreed that we can give information about the progress of your claim to your landlord, we will give them this information if they ask.

We may also ask you to make a fresh statement of your circumstances by filling in a review form.  If we do this, we may tell your landlord if they ask and you have agreed that we can share information with them on the progress of your claim.

If you change your mind about us sharing information about the progress of your claim with your landlord, please tell us in writing that you now agree to share that information or withdraw permission to share the information.

If you are a private tenant, we sometimes have to give the Valuation Office Agency Rent Service details about your home and rent.

We can share information collected as part of your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction applications with other departments in the Council, other Local Authorities the Department for Work and Pensions and, in some circumstances, your landlord and other organisations.

Automated-Decision making

Automated decision-making takes place when an electronic system uses personal information to make a decision without human intervention.

If you are receiving Housing Benefit a Council Tax Reduction or an ongoing Discretionary Housing Payment, HMRC and the DWP will provide us with data files to update us with the details they hold about you, your family, income and savings.  They will also let us know where the information they hold differs from the information we hold about you.

Some of this information is processed with no or very little human intervention and updates any entitlement you may have automatically.  You will receive a letter to tell you that your entitlement has changed and why it has changed.  You will also have the right to ask for the decision to be looked at again by a person as well as the right to appeal against any decision that affects your entitlement whether or not that decision is automated.    

How information about you will be used

We may share information as permitted under the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc.) Regulations 2012.

The information we hold, 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;

  • a Blue badge
  • a Disabled Facilities Grant
  • a Discretionary Housing Payment
  • a Local Welfare Provision award
  • help with the cost of supporting people services
  • residential care
  • domiciliary care - such as day care, home helps and meals.

The information held by the council as part of your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction 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).

We will also share information, where permitted by The Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, relating to Universal Credit or welfare services with, citizens advice bureaux, credit unions, social landlords and relevant registered charities to allow those bodies to use that information to;

  • help a person to make or manage their Universal Credit claim
  • manage their financial affairs.

How long we keep your information

We only keep information for as long as it is needed.  This will be based on either a legal requirement (where a law says we have to keep information for a specific period of time) or accepted business practice.   For most records we hold this will be for 7 years after the last contact we have had with you. If a claim has an outstanding overpayment, we will retain your information for up to 7 years after full repayment of the overpayment.

If the claim has an active fraud investigation, we will retain all information for up to 7 years after the end of the fraud investigation and conclusion of court action.

How you can access, update or correct your information

If your claim is being paid on an ongoing basis, you must let us know if your circumstances change.  You can do this online, by phone or by writing to us.  We may also ask you to make a fresh statement of your circumstances by filling in a review form.  There is no set pattern but typically every year or so we will review aspects of the data we hold.

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

The accuracy of your information is important to us to be able to provide relevant services more quickly.  We are 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 we hold is inaccurate or out of date, please contact us.

Marketing

We do not use your information for marketing purposes.

Your information choice and rights

Please see the relevant section of the Corporate Privacy Statement

Protecting your information

Please see the relevant section of the Corporate Privacy Statement

 

 

Last Updated: 25 October 2018