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Privacy notice for Council Tax, Business Rates and Housing Benefit

Information held about you and why we need it

We process and store personal information about you in order to administer and enforce Council Tax. We also need your personal information so that we can assess your eligibility for housing benefit, or to calculate the amount of any housing benefit and/or Council Tax Support that you may be entitled to.

Personal information we will need from you may include all or some of the following:

  • your name and address
  • National Insurance number
  • telephone and email addresses
  • bank details
  • dates of employment
  • allowances and benefits
  • savings and investments
  • income and capital
  • property ownership
  • immigration status
  • data about other people living with you (e.g. your partner, your children and other adults).
  • details of your landlord 
  • the amount of rent paid
  • any other information required to process an application for any type of benefit.

The majority of information provided by you to the council is mandatory for the purposes specified in this notice, but some of it is provided by you on a voluntary basis. We will inform you whether you are required by law to provide certain information to us; however, if you do have a choice to provide information that is not mandatory, your explicit consent will be requested. Where applicable, we will also seek to refresh your consent from time to time to ensure that you are still happy for us to use your data.

How we collect your personal information

We collect information from you when:

  • you fill in one of our application forms
  • contact us in writing, over the phone or face-to-face with council staff
  • Sometimes we will need to obtain information about you from third parties (including previous owners, landlords and estate agents) where this is necessary in order to administer and enforce the collection of Council Tax.

The legal bases used to process your personal data

  • Public Task – processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
  • Where processing is necessary for compliance with our legal obligations
  • If we need to establish, exercise or defend our legal rights by protecting public interests or in the exercise of official authority (e.g. to detect and prevent fraud/crime, and in prosecutions and Court proceedings)
  • Where you have given consent to the processing of your personal data for one or more specific purposes

Please see our 'When we can process personal data without consent' page for more information on this topic.

How we use your personal information

We use your personal information so that we can provide you services as required under various legislation including administering and enforcing Council Tax under the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 and the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

We also have a duty to protect the public funds we administer and so we may use your information to help collect sundry debts owed to the Council e.g. Council Tax debt and to assist in the recovery of housing benefit overpayments. In this regard we may match your Council Tax data with Electoral Registration records.

The information we collect and the information provided to us by other organisations such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is required to help us decide whether you qualify for help and how much, if anything, you should receive in respect of a housing benefit application and/or a Council Tax Support claim.

We may also use your data to help you with an application that you may have made for another council service, for example:

  • Discretionary housing payment;
  • To support and signpost people to other agencies who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless under our statutory duties;
  • To identify and refer individuals and families who are most in need that may benefit from the Troubled Families Programme or from additional Gateway Services.

We will also use you data to make sure the service you receive is efficient and effective, monitor and evaluate performance, account for our decisions and investigate complaints, and to produce statistics and reports to plan our service. Statistics are used in such a way that individuals cannot be identified from them.

If you fall behind with your Council Tax payments, we may need to access your application to assist you. We will treat your information as confidential and we will not normally share it with any other external organisation or internally within the council without your explicit consent unless the law allows or requires us to do so. We may also disclose information when necessary to prevent the risk of harm to an individual.

We will not disclose your personal information to third parties for marketing or commercial purposes.

Sharing your information

We may share information about you with third parties where permitted or required by law to do so for all lawful purposes including but not limited to the prevention and detection of fraud and criminal activity, protecting public funds by investigating the misuse of public money, and auditing or administering public funds.

We must give out some information if we are asked by the DWP or HMRC. We may also share your information with other local authorities, government departments or other agencies when required to under the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, e.g. the council’s debt collection and enforcement agents, the police when carrying out criminal investigations and other agencies that handle public funds and process other benefits.

We also participate in the Cabinet Office’s National Fraud Initiative, a data-matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the Minister for the Cabinet Office for matching for each exercise. This data may then be passed on to other public bodies to investigate any matches. Find out more about the National Fraud Initiative.

Your information may also be shared with the council’s Complaints Team, Legal Services Department, Corporate Management Team, the Corporate Finance Team and others to improve working practices and the delivery of services for which it is responsible. Information may also be disclosed to other local authorities and police authorities and government departments. In addition, the council may use information from these sources for the administration of council tax.

Council staff will only be able to access personal information essential to their work and statutory functions but may share data between the respective teams where this is necessary to provide you with services. We will ensure compliance with data protection law where information is shared within the council for the purposes of delivering other services.

How long we keep your personal information

We have a data protection regime in place to oversee the effective and secure processing of your personal data and also use appropriate technical safeguards to keep your information secure.

We will only keep your information for as long as it is required by us or other regulatory bodies to comply with legal and regulatory requirements or for other operational reasons. In most cases this will be for a minimum of six years. Our Retention schedule provides more information.

Providing us with accurate information

It is important that you provide us with accurate information so that we may process your application effectively. Please inform us as quickly as possible of any changes so that we can update your records.

If false or inaccurate information is provided and fraud is identified, details will be passed to fraud prevention agencies. Law enforcement agencies may access and use this information.

Your right and how to find out more

You have a number of rights under data protection law. For information about these, how the council uses personal information and how to get in touch if you have a query or complaint, please see our main privacy notice.