Housing benefit and council tax support privacy notice

Updated: 22 June 2023

Our contact details

Name: Data Protection Officer

Address: Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell, RG12 1JD

Phone Number: 01344 352000

Email: dpo@bracknell-forest.gov.uk

Bracknell Forest Council is registered as a controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

You can find us on the ICO website - our registration number is Z4971654.

The type of personal information we collect

We currently collect and process the following information:

  • surname, forename and title
  • date of birth
  • address and postcode
  • previous address and postcode
  • email
  • phone number
  • marital status
  • National Insurance number
  • your nationality and whether you have lived in the UK for the last 2 years
  • financial details including your income and any bank accounts you have
  • student details
  • information about where you live including tenancy details, rent charged, type of property you live in and your landlord details

We also collect the following, which is, or could include, special category information:

  • whether you have a disability
  • details of all people who live in your household including their gender, relationship to you and your partner, and proof of their personal circumstances

How we get the personal information and why we have it

Information is collected from you as the service user by:

  • online forms
  • hard copy documents
  • email
  • telephone
  • face to face discussion

Information may also be collected from a representative acting on your behalf.

Information may also be collected from data that you supplied to:

  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • 'Tell Us Once' service

Information to help us assess your entitlement could come from:

  • council tax
  • fraud teams
  • children’s services
  • housing services
  • other councils that you have lived in or are moving to
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) pensions and earnings data from the Department for Work and Pensions - this may include information for other people who live in the same household (information from HMRC may also be used to assist in housing benefit debt recovery)

The welfare service collects personal data for the purpose of processing applications for housing benefit and council tax support. These are means tested benefits and information will be used to assess your entitlements to these benefits and for the detection and prevention of fraud.

This could include help with applications for these services:

  • discretionary housing payment
  • council tax hardship payment
  • blue badge
  • disabled facilities grant
  • help with supporting people services
  • residential care
  • domiciliary care - such as day care, home helps and meals
  • free school meals
  • food support and other support programmes

Where necessary and appropriate we also use the information:

  • to improve the service we deliver we may also use your information to communicate with you and provide services appropriate to your needs
  • to identify and support people who are at risk of becoming homeless
  • to assess liability for council tax or to help in the recovery of unpaid council tax or housing benefit overpayments

How the law allows us to use your personal information

Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), the lawful basis we rely on for processing this information is to perform a public task.

Lawful basis for processing

Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) the lawful basis for processing is Article 6 UK GDPR:

  • (a) you have given consent
  • (c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which we are subject
  • (e) a task carried out in the public interest

Special category data

Special category data is being processed under Article 9 UK GDPR:

  • (e) processing relates to personal data which are manifestly made public by the data subject
  • (g) necessary for reasons of substantial public interest

Those tasks have a clear basis within the following legislation governing housing benefits, council tax support and Universal Credit:

You can read the guide to lawful basis for processing special category data on the Information Commissioner's Office website

Your consent

Where we do use consent to process your personal data, we will explain to you what we are asking you to agree to and why.

If we have consent to use your personal data, you have the right to remove it at any time.

If you want to remove your consent, please email benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk and we will deal with your request.

If you remove your consent we are unlikely to be able to provide continued services to you.

Who we share your information with

To process claims and fulfil our duties as a benefit provider we may need to share information with other organisations we work with or those who provide services on our behalf.

These include:

  • DWP
  • HMRC
  • other council departments – in order to provide and include services and protect public funds
  • your landlord – if we make housing benefit payments directly to your landlord we will only share information about payment of benefits
  • your employer – to get back any money that has been overpaid to you
  • external enforcement agencies - for the collection of overpaid housing benefit, where appropriate
  • the cabinet office - for the purposes of a data matching exercise called the national fraud initiative - the purpose of this exercise is to detect fraud and error and the council is legally required to participate
  • other councils
  • processing partners
  • auditors
  • Tribunal Service – after an appeal against a housing benefit decision
  • Valuation Service – after an appeal against a council tax support decision
  • contractors who provide agency staff – to assess benefit applications
  • elected members – to resolve queries when acting on your behalf

Occasionally, your information may be accessed by contracted IT providers. Access by IT providers will only be for reasons of technical support, and any viewing of data will be incidental to this.

There are other specific situations where we may be required to disclose information about you, such as:

  • where we are required to provide the information by law
  • where disclosing the information is required to prevent or detect a crime, including fraud
  • where disclosure is in the vital interests of the person concerned

How we store your personal information

Your information is stored electronically on:

  • secure encrypted laptops
  • our document imaging system and secure electronic benefits system
  • your housing benefit decision letters are available through the Citizen Access Benefits portal and you will be required to register for online letters in order to view your letters - unless you have indicated you require any service adjustments then your letters are only available to view online
  • shared drives for which access is restricted to the team for which the data is necessary

Data will not be kept for longer than is necessary and is kept in line with the council’s retention and disposal schedule. We will dispose your information by securely destroying any data we hold.

Your data protection rights

Under data protection law, you have rights we need to make you aware of. The rights available to you depend on our reason for processing your information.

Your right of access

You have the right to ask us for copies of your personal information. This right always applies. There are some exemptions, which means you may not always receive all the information we process.

Find out more about your right of access from the ICO.

Your right to get your data corrected

You have the right to ask us to correct information you think is inaccurate. You also have the right to ask us to complete information you think is incomplete. This right always applies.

Find out more about your right to get your data corrected from the ICO.

Your right to get your data deleted

You have the right to ask us to delete your personal information in certain circumstances.

Find out more about your right to get your data deleted from the ICO.

Your right to limit how organisations use your data

You have the right to ask us to limit the processing of your information in certain circumstances.

Find out more about your right to limit how organisations use your data from the ICO.

Your right to object to the use of your data

You have the right to object to processing if we are able to process your information because the process forms part of our public tasks.

Find out more about your right to object to the use of your data from the ICO.

Your right to data portability

This only applies to information you have given us. You have the right to ask that we transfer the information you gave us from one organisation to another, or give it to you.

The right only applies if we are processing information based on your consent or for the performance of a contract, and the processing is automated.

Find out more about your right to data portability from the ICO.

Making a request

You are not required to pay any charge for exercising your rights. If you make a request, we have 28 days to respond to you.

To make a request, contact us by emailing: dpo@bracknell-forest.gov.uk

Service adjustments

As a public authority and a provider of services to the public, we have a legal duty to comply with the Equality Act 2010.

This means we need to make service adjustments for anyone with a disability who contacts us in any capacity, to eliminate any barriers to accessing our services.

Our lawful basis for processing this information is article 6(1)(c) of the UK GDPR as we have a legal obligation to provide this. Our processing of special category data, such as health information you give us, will be based on article 9(2)(a), which means we need your consent.

We will create a record of your adjustment requirements. These will give your name, contact details and type of adjustment required, along with a brief description of why it is required. Relevant staff can access this to make sure they are communicating with you in the required way.

Please contact us should you require service adjustments.

How to complain

If you have any concerns about our use of your personal information, you can make a complaint to us at dpo@bracknell-forest.gov.uk.

You can also complain to the ICO if you are unhappy with how we have used your data by:

  • visiting the ICO website
  • phoning the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113
  • writing to:
    • Information Commissioner’s Office
      Wycliffe House
      Water Lane
      SK9 5AF