Privacy Notice - Benefits
What this privacy notice is for
Our core data protection obligations and commitments are set out in the council’s primary privacy notice at:
Updating our privacy notices
We may update or revise our privacy notices at any time so please refer to the version published on our website for the most up-to-date details
What we use your information for
We collect or obtain your personal information to administer statutory and discretionary benefits and enforce the collection of any overpayments of:
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Reduction
- Council Tax Support Fund
- Exceptional Hardship Payments (EHP)
- Discretionary Housing Payments
- Local Welfare Provision
- Free School Meals
- Housing Benefit Overpayment
We may share your information with other departments within the Council if there is a legal basis to do so to deliver other Council activities. Where this happens, data-sharing agreements are in place to control the use of this data.
What categories of personal information do we use
Personal information can be anything that identifies and relates to a living person. This can include information that when linked with other information, allows a person to be uniquely identified. For example, this could be your name and contact details.
The law treats some types of personal information as ‘special’ because the information requires more protection due to its sensitivity. This information consists of:
- Racial or ethnic origin
- Sexuality and sexual life
- Religious or philosophical beliefs
- Trade union membership
- Political opinions
- Genetic and bio-metric data
- Physical or mental health
- Criminal convictions and offences
To carry out these purposes, we collect and obtain the following personal information.
Category of personal data
Self-employment details inc nature of business
Income and Expenditure Details
Date of Birth
National Insurance Number
School details for dependants
Landlord and rent details if applicable
Other properties owned
Date entered UK
Temporary absence details
Student status inc educational establishment
Health (Physical/Mental) need for an overnight carer
Racial or ethnic origin
We will use information about your physical or mental health, or disability status to administer statutory and discretionary benefits including applying any relevant discounts. If you are in rent or Council Tax arrears, we may also use this information to determine whether you are vulnerable and tailor our assessment methods accordingly.
Legal basis for processing
Oldham Council has a statutory responsibility to provide services that administer and enforce the collection Housing Benefit Overpayments.
The legal basis for processing and or sharing your personal information is Article 6(1) (c) and 6(1) (e) of the General Data Protection Regulations.
The legal basis for each Benefits Service is set out in the table below:
Council Tax Reduction
Discretionary Housing Payments
Local Welfare Provision
Free School Meals
Housing Benefit Overpayments
If you fail to provide certain information when requested, we may be prevented from complying with our legal obligations to administer the benefit schemes and collect any overpaid monies owed to the Council. Similarly, in not providing your information you may find yourself subject to incorrect benefit entitlement and further legal and debt recovery proceedings.
We may share personal information about you with the following organisations, where it is necessary and appropriate to do so:
- Software Providers: Our software providers may have to access to our Benefits systems on occasion where there is a fault, to perform necessary upgrades or to host information on our behalf. Our current software providers are:
- Capita PLC: We use Capita One Revenues and Benefits for the administration of Housing Benefit (including recovery of any overpayments), Council Tax Reduction, Discretionary Housing Payments, Free School Meals, and Local Welfare Provision. We also use Capita One Digital for our online services.
- NEC Software Solutions – Document Management System. This normally includes non-system-generated letters issued to claimants, correspondence from claimants, and details of any checks made in relation to entitlement. Additional information may be stored, if necessary, for the administration of the claimant's account
- Team Netsol – hosts the online benefits form to enable you to make an application or report a change in circumstances.
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Searchlight System, Verify Earnings Pensions Service (VEP); for details of DWP and Her Majesty Revenues and Customs (HMRC) Benefits, Pensions and Income.
- Department for Education, Eligibility Checking System to check eligibility for free school meals.
- Registered Social Landlords – to check tenancies and rents
- Housing 21 - to check tenancies and rents for Housing 21 tenants
- Local Government Ombudsman: We may share information when requested as part of any ongoing complaint investigation.
- Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS): If we are required to take legal action to recover monies you owe, or to provide evidence at benefit appeal hearings.
- Valuation Tribunal (VT): We may share information when requested as part of a VT appeal.
- Printing and Mailing Companies: We may share your details for the purposes of issuing benefit notifications, bills, invoices, and reminder Notices.
- Third - party companies to enable the supply of goods to residents under the Local Welfare Provision scheme.
- Cabinet Office: We 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.
- Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) and DWP: We are required to undertake the Housing Benefit Matching Service to report any discrepancies and enable Government to undertake statistical analysis. We may share your details for the purpose of requesting an attachment to your benefits.
- External Auditors: to ensure correct administration of benefit legislation.
We may share your information with other departments within the Council if there is a legal basis to do so. Where this happens, frequently, data-sharing agreements are in place to control the use of this data. These services currently include:
- The Audit and Counter Fraud Team: in order to prevent and detect fraud and help protect public monies.
- Strategy and Performance to inform decisions on the equality impact on protected groups so that elected members can make an informed decision on any disproportionate impact from proposals or changes to policy.
- Housing Benefit Matching Service for prevention and detection of fraud and to ensure accurate data is held to maintain accurate benefit claims.
- Support and Inclusion Team (SIT) and Welfare Rights Team: To support residents who have been identified as having needs beyond one-off crisis support with tailored support, signposting and referrals.
- Children Missing in Education: The Council has a statutory duty to ensure that we are able to establish the identities of children, aged 5 – 16 years, in the borough area who are not registered pupils at a school, and are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school
- Adult Social Care Client Financial Affairs: To support the processing of fairer charging assessments.
- Electoral Register: to support the administration of the electoral register.
If you provide another person or organisation authority to discuss or to act on your behalf in benefit related matters, we may share information with them. In all cases, we would require evidence that you had granted authority before any information is shared.
We may be asked to provide access to personal information by relevant authorities with regulatory powers such as the police, government departments, and other local authorities for the purposes of the prevention or detection of crime and/or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders without the permission of the data subject. The Council will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.
As well as information collected directly from you, we may also obtain or receive information from:
- Letting Agents: To provide confirmation of occupation and vacation dates for tenants.
- Solicitors: If they obtain relevant information in relation to you whilst acting on our behalf.
- Landlords: To provide confirmation of occupation, vacation dates for tenants and if there are any rent arrears
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP): Information to administer Benefits and Council Tax Reduction, and confirmation of any deductions from benefits in place.
- Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC): Information to administer Benefits and Council Tax Reduction, and confirmation of any deductions from benefits in place
- Credit Reference Agencies: to verify your personal and financial circumstances for entitlement to benefits and ascertain your ability to pay back any overpayments.
- Other Council Services: To keep our records up to date and to help prevent and identify fraud.
Data Transfers beyond the European Economic Area
We do not transfer any of your personal information outside the European Economic Area (‘EEA’).
We may increase, decrease, or suspend a benefit award automatically, based upon changes in circumstances reported to us by the DWP ATLAS system such as your ongoing entitlement to Tax Credits. Notifications are automatically sent to you reporting any changes to your benefit entitlement.
The Council provides online options for Council Taxpayers to advise us of change of address details. This may be processed automatically and effect your entitlement to Council Tax reduction and/or Housing Benefit.
Our Guide to Exercising Your Rights outlines the procedure to ask us for an automated decision to be reviewed by an appropriate officer. This can be found at:
How long we keep your data
We will only keep your information for as long as it is required by us or other regulatory bodies in order to comply with legal and regulatory requirements or for other operational reasons. In most cases, this will be a minimum of six years.
Where can I get advice?
More information on how to seek advice to exercise your rights, raise a concern, or complain about the handling of your personal information by the council can be found in the council’s privacy notice which can be found at: