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Homelessness privacy notice

Find out the data we collect on all people asking for help with homelessness.

Published: 22 December 2020

Last updated: 16 December 2021

Privacy notice for the Homelessness Data England Project (HDE)

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is responsible for reducing homelessness and rough sleeping. They are working with local authorities to gather data to carry out research. This will improve their understanding of the causes and factors associated with homelessness and help us improve homelessness services.

DLUHC has asked local authorities to provide personal information on all households asking for help with homelessness, including rough sleepers and those housed during the coronavirus pandemic.

DLUHC will always take appropriate account of the requirement to meet its data protection obligations, as set out in this privacy notice.

If you have any concerns about how DLUHC is handling your personal information, you can email the department’s Data Protection Officer at: [email protected]

Or contact them at the following address:

  • DLUHC Data Protection Officer, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

What’s the aim of this study?

This research is being carried out by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (DLUHC) and will improve our ability to carry out our public functions – in this case to reduce homelessness.

We want to collect information from different sources to improve our understanding of the causes and factors related to homelessness and improve homelessness services.

By carrying out this research, DLUHC aims to find out whether:

  1. Housing services help prevent homelessness
  2. People return for help and/or move regularly
  3. Homelessness programmes, such as Housing First, and the temporary accommodation provided during the coronavirus pandemic have reduced homelessness and rough sleeping in the longer term
  4. There are other causes of or factors associated with homelessness and outcomes, such as poor health, contact with the criminal justice system, worklessness, welfare changes, experience of the care system, educational attendance and attainment and the characteristics and experiences of household members.
  5. Understand more about the contact households have with public services, including the costs to public services.

What personal information are we collecting and what will we do with it?

For this project, DLUHC wants to use your personal information as well as that of others in your household to bring together information from a range of sources, including your homelessness application and past and future information on your use of other public services and benefits.

DLUHC will use your personal details - name, date of birth, gender, last known address and National Insurance number (if known) - to gather data held by other government departments and health agencies. This data includes information about substance misuse, mental health problems, children in need and in care, school attendance and attainment, out-of-work and housing benefits, spells of employment and police cautions, convictions and sentences.

Any information you provide will not be used to make any decisions about what benefits you get, services you use, now or in future, or used to identify fraud. It can only be used for research.

Researchers looking at the data we gather will not know whose data they have i.e. the dataset will not include any personal identifiers such as names, date of birth, etc, but only a unique reference number created for the project.

How we get the personal information and why we have it

The personal information is processed on our behalf by our trusted third party processor – Office for National Statistics. The personal information we process is provided to us by local authorities to carry out this research project.

We use the information that you have given us in order to match to data from other government departments and health agencies and to create a look-up table that allows us to match data together without knowing whose data we are looking at (using a unique identifier).

In order to carry out this research we will match to:

  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to see what benefits you have received and whether you have been employed
  • Ministry of Justice (MoJ) – to see what contact you may have had with the criminal justice system
  • Department for Education (DfE) – to see when your child has been in school, how well they are doing at each Key Stage and whether they are a Child in Need
  • Public Health England (PHE) – to find out whether you have received treatment for drug or alcohol misuse
  • NHS Digital – to find out whether you have been to A&E, and used in-patient and out-patient health services.

We will also use the look-up table to match to data on interventions for rough sleepers, such as Housing First and data we hold from the Troubled Families Evaluation.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the lawful bases we rely on for processing this information are:

Article 6(1)(e) - we need it for reasons of substantial public interest. And Article 9(2)g for special category data – we need it for reasons of public interest.

What will happen to the information provided?

Your information will only be used for research and will be anonymised, so the researchers will not know whose data they have. 
Your local authority will send your information to MHCLG using a secure IT system. 

Your personal information (as above) will be used to identify data collected as part of your assessment and linked to information held by other government departments such as:

  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to see what benefits you have received and whether you have been employed
  • Ministry of Justice (MOJ) – to see what contact you may have had with the criminal justice system
  • Department for Education (DfE) – to see when your child has been in school, how well they are doing at each Key Stage and whether they are a Child in Need

Your personal information will be kept strictly confidential and separately from all the other information in a secure, password-protected document on a computer system. You will be assigned a unique reference number, so that even though a researcher will see all your information, they will not be able to know it is you.

How we store your personal information

Your personal information (name, date of birth, address and national insurance number) will not be sent outside of the EU: it will be securely stored in the EU by DLUHC; and in England by the Office for National Statistics.

The Office for National Statistics (DLUHC’s third party processor) will keep your personal information and store them securely for as long as they are needed for the research as set out under the aims (above). Keeping the data will enable us to understand the longer term outcomes for those who have been homeless or at risk of homelessness. To ensure we don’t retain the data for longer than is necessary, we will carry out a detailed review every 5 years with key partners. If a decision is taken that the data is no longer needed for the research your personal information will be securely deleted.

DLUHC will only use your data within the terms of data protection laws, will delete your data securely and only keep it for as long as necessary for our work as a public body. DLUHC will review dates for keeping personal details and data in the future and if necessary ask local authorities to update their privacy notices.

Other government departments and health agencies (e.g. DWP, NHS Digital) will keep your personal details for a month before destroying them and will not keep records showing you were part of this research.

Data security and anonymity is of high importance to this project. The personal identities of households will be protected and all data will be transferred between organisations using secure transfer methods. Strict security procedures will be agreed and put in place for each organisation involved in the project.

What will happen to the results of this research?

Only aggregate level results of this research will be published, for example the characteristics of those who are homeless across England or a region. DLUHC will publish reports on the gov.uk website. You will not be identified in any research report.

Automated decision making

DLUHC will not use your data for automated decision making, for example using statistical modelling to decide whether or not to provide services.

What are my rights?

You can talk to staff at your local authority about whether your data is being used for this project without it affecting your legal rights or routine care.

You have the right to object to the use of your personal details, the right to see the personal details held (name, address etc) and the right for it to be changed if it is wrong. You also have the right to ask us to restrict the processing of your personal information in certain circumstances. If you would like to exercise these rights, please contact DLUHC’s Data Protection Officer at [email protected] or at the below postal address:

  • DLUHC Data Protection Officer, 2 Marsham St, London, W1P 4DF

What if I want to complain or find out more information?

If you want more information you can ask a member of staff at your local authority and/or contact DLUHC researchers at [email protected].

You can contact DLUHC’s Knowledge and Information Team to request access to or correction of your data by emailing DLUHC’s Data Protection Officer at [email protected]

If you are unhappy with the way your personal information is being handled you can contact the independent Information Commissioner at: