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Benefits service privacy notice

Learn about what types of data our benefits service collect, how they use or share personal data, and what your rights are.

This notice explains rights you have under the GDPR (UK General Data Protection Regulation) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), why we are collecting personal information from you and what we will do with it. For more information see our fair processing notice.

Why we are asking you for information

The personal information collected on applications for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support will be used for the purposes of working out your entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support and deciding Discretionary Housing Payment applications.

The information you provide will also be used to ensure you are receiving the Welfare Benefits you are entitled to and identify other Council services that might be able to help you, for example Discretionary Housing Payments or Local Welfare Provision.

LIFT (Low Income Family Tracker) dashboard

The council also uses data supplied in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support claims to maintain a Low-Income Family Tracker dashboard to identify households affected by welfare reforms such as the benefit cap and residents who are at risk of homelessness and/or poverty.

Data used for this purpose is anonymised which means that personal information is removed to prevent an individual being identified.

What data do we collect?

The types of personal data the claim forms ask you for include:

  • names and dates of birth of members of your household
  • your national insurance number
  • relationship between members of your household
  • your contact details
  • your income and capital
  • your tenancy details
  • your bank and payment information, where applicable
  • Nationality and Immigration Status where this is needed to decide if you are eligible to receive benefits

We will sometimes need information about other people who live with you. For example, where someone makes a claim for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support we need information about other people who live in the same household to work out how much benefit you are entitled to. We also receive your personal information from the Department for Work and Pensions, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs or your landlords and other parties such as credit reference agencies.

Except where indicated on the application form, you must provide the information asked for so that the Benefits Service can work out your entitlement. A failure to provide information requested may lead to a decision that you are not entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support.

You do not need to provide an email address or telephone number but doing so may enable the Benefits Service to make a decision on your claim more quickly. We may contact you using the details you provide on a claim form or in subsequent correspondence or telephone calls.

Personal data - Article 6(1)(c) of the GDPR: the processing is necessary for us to comply with the law and 6(1)(e) undertaking actions in the public interest. There are various laws applied on these legal bases.

For Housing Benefit the Council has the right to process the information by virtue of social security and other legislation, in particular:

  • Social Security Administration Act 1992
  • Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992
  • Welfare Reform Act 2012
  • The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006
  • The Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006
  • The Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001
  • Finance Act 2011

For Council Tax Support the Council can process the information by virtue of:

  • Local Government Finance Act 1992 and
  • Westminster City Council’s Council Tax Support Scheme

Who we may share your data with and why

We will only share your data when we have a legal duty or power to do so, and it is necessary and proportionate to share the information. This might be because of a legal duty or to keep a vulnerable person safe or to allow another council team or someone working for, or on behalf of, the Council to provide services to you.

We also share information, in the ways Data Protection law allows, to prevent and detect crime including housing fraud, safeguarding and other purposes.

Information is shared with the Department for Work and Pensions for the purposes of administering and developing the Housing Benefit scheme.

Information is shared with the Council Tax Service for purposes of awarding discounts (for example the sole occupier discount) or ensuring that periods of liability are correct (for example when a person moves in or out of a dwelling).

How long will we keep your personal information?

We will only keep your information for the minimum period necessary. The information outlined in this privacy notice will be kept for the period required by the council for legal and audit purposes. All information will be held securely and destroyed under confidential conditions.

Your rights

You have the right to request a copy of the information we hold about you, the right to ask us to rectify, erase or restrict processing of your data, and if we are relying on consent (which here we are not) the right to withdraw consent at any time.

We will not transfer your personal data outside the EU/EEA.

If you have any concerns

Please contact us if you would like to know more about the information we hold about you and how we use it. Read or our overarching Fair Processing Notice and you can contact the our Data Protection Officer at [email protected]

If you want to see information stored about you, you will need to submit a ‘Subject Access Request’. Please email [email protected] for further
details or make a request online on our Fair Processing Notice.

You have a right to complain to us if you think we have not complied with our obligation for handling your personal information. Please see the make a complaint page.

If you are not satisfied with the Council’s response you have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). You can report a concern by visiting the ICO website.

Changes in your circumstances

You must notify us immediately if there are any changes in your circumstances and personal details so we can maintain an accurate and up to date record of your information.

Published: 27 February 2024

Last updated: 27 February 2024