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Children's Services privacy notice

Find out how Westminster City Council Children’s Services collect and use personal information about you and your family.

Free school meals auto-enrolment privacy notice

Purpose for processing your information

Free School Meals are a statutory benefit available to school-aged children from families who receive certain qualifying benefits. Younger children may also be eligible for Free School Meals if they attend a local authority nursery school or nursery class and attend full days.

Westminster City Council administers the Free School Meal scheme for eligible children in Westminster on behalf of the Government.  We also provide food vouchers (from the Household Support Fund) to ensure families of children who are eligible for free school meals during term time are able to purchase food during the holidays to replace the meals their child would have received during the school day.

We collect the following information

We need to collect your personal data in order to provide these services, which may include:

  • Your contact details (name, address, telephone number and email address)
  • Details about you (date of birth, national insurance number and gender)
  • Details about your child (name, date of birth, gender, school and year group)

If you have declared a partner on your claim for benefits we may also use details about them (date of birth, national insurance number and gender) to ensure we have matched the correct family on our systems.

How we collect your information

If you apply for a Free School Meal online, you provide this information to us directly. Someone else (for example school staff, a social worker, your GP or Citizens Advice Bureau) can also apply on your behalf.

Your personal information is only used for a specified purpose(s) but if we intend to use it for any other new purposes we will normally ask you first.  For instance in some cases, the Council may wish to use your information for another purpose such as related to improving and developing services, or to prevent or detect fraud.  In any event our processing will always have a demonstrable lawful basis.  Where practicable and reasonable we will always seek to inform you of any significant proposed changes to how we process or intend to process your personal data, in order to ensure full transparency over how we handle your information.

We also carry out a data matching exercise each year to identify children who might be entitled to Free School Meals. Families should contact their children's schools for further information

We use your personal data to

  • Check whether your child is eligible for Free School Meals
  • Notify your child’s school of their entitlement to Free School Meals
  • Provide food vouchers to support families during the school holidays
  • Deal with any complaints or concerns
  • Detect fraud and protect public funds

Under data protection law, we need to have a lawful basis to process personal data. We are required by law to provide Free School Meals to eligible children in Westminster under Section 512 of the Education Act 1996. The local authority has the “general power of competence” under Section 1 of the Localism Act 2011 to auto-enrol children eligible for Free School Meals.

Under the UK GDPR, the lawful basis that applies to the processing of personal data in relation to these services is Article 6(1)(e) Public task. The condition to process sensitive data (special category under GDPR) will be Article 9(2)(g) reasons of substantial public interest. The relevant substantial public interest condition under the Data Protection Act 2018 is Schedule 1, Part 2 Para 6: statutory etc and government purposes.

Who the information is shared with

We will share information with:

  • Your child’s school or early years provider to let them know that your child has been awarded a Free School Meal
  • The Department for Education’s Free School Meals checking service

If you move to a different local authority, we may also need to share information with them. This is to confirm that your child was awarded Free School Meals in Westminster.

How long do we keep your information?

We hold personal data in line with the Council’s retention schedule. We keep your personal data as long as your child remains eligible for free school meals, and then for a further six years. We need to keep your information for this long to comply with anti-fraud legislation.

At the end of the retention period, the information is reviewed and only retained where there is an ongoing requirement to retain for a statutory or legal purpose. Following this, personal information will be securely destroyed.

We may also anonymise some personal data you provide to us to ensure that you cannot be identified and use this data to allow the Council to effectively target and plan the provision of services.

Your rights and access to your information

You have the right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you. 

The Data Protection Act 2018 also gives you additional rights that refer to how the council holds and uses your information.

Consequently, under certain circumstances, by law you have the right to:

  • withdraw consent (where applicable) and the right to object and restrict further processing of your data; however, this may affect service delivery to you.
  • request to have your data deleted where there is no compelling reason for its continued processing and provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it.
  • request your data to be rectified if it is inaccurate or incomplete
  • have your data transferred or copied should you move to another authority (where applicable)
  • not be subject to automated decision-making including profiling (where applicable)

Information about how to submit a Subject Access Request.

Please visit our data protection web pages for further details on how the council complies with the Data Protection Act 2018

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 [email protected].

You have a right to complain to us if you think we have not complied with our obligation for handling your personal information.

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: 19 October 2023

Last updated: 19 October 2023