Personal benefits information

Records are kept about you to ensure that you are receiving the correct entitlement of Housing Benefit and reduction of Council Tax.

Keeping records helps with making decisions that are based on up-to-date and accurate information, and keeping your circumstances under review.

We will only keep as much information as we need and we will treat this in confidence.

What type of information is kept?

The information we hold is dependent on the claim you have made and the information you have provided.

The Department for Work and Pensions, Employment Services and the Inland Revenue also provide information to check the accuracy of information we hold to protect public funds.

The information we hold about you is stored and linked to an account reference that you will have been provided upon assessment of a claim.

How will this information be used?

The information may be passed to the Department for Work and Pensions, Employment Services and the Inland Revenue, as permitted by law.

We may check information provided by you, or information about you provided by a third party, with other information held by us.

We may also get information from certain third parties, or give information to them to check the accuracy of information to prevent or detect crime, or to protect public funds in other ways, as permitted by law.

These third parties include Government Departments and other local authorities.

We will not disclose information about you to anyone outside Oldham Council nor use information about you for other purposes unless the law permits us to (see Sharing information with your landlord below).

How is the information collected?

There are a number of ways that information is collected:

  • From your applications, interviews, meetings or telephone calls
  • From someone acting on your behalf (for example, a carer, relative, neighbour or friend)
  • From other people who may be working with you (for example, school or hospital staff, your general practitioner or health visitor)
  • From government departments or certain third parties as permitted by law.

Confidentiality

All information held about you is confidential and will not be disclosed to other individuals or agencies without your consent unless we are legally bound to do so.

Sharing information with your landlord

If payments of benefit are made directly to your landlord, we can give them limited information about your claim.

This information is limited to details around the dates of payments, the amount of benefit you are entitled, the amount of any overpayments that are being recovered from ongoing entitlement and we can tell them if your claim is suspended (but not the reason why).

If payments are being made directly to you (the claimant) then we will not give the landlord any information about you or your claim.

If you do wish us to give your landlord information about your claim then you will need to give us permission to do so in writing or by requesting it on your application form (this information will still be limited to details of payments, the amount of entitlement, the amount of any overpayments being recovered and if your claim is suspended).

At no time will the Council give out any personal information about you or your household.

Your Legal Rights

The personal information held about you is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Act requires the Oldham Council Benefits Service to comply with the rules of good information handling practice, known as the data protection principles.

The principles require, amongst other things, that personal data is processed fairly and lawfully, is accurate and relevant and is subject to appropriate security.

Request to See Information Relating to Your Claim

If you have made a Housing Benefit or Council Tax benefit Claim you can ask at any time to see information held about you.

You can also request to see information about another person if you are legally acting on their behalf. For example, you might be a parent or carer or another person connected to someone who is incapable of understanding or exercising their rights.

Requests to access personal information must be written to:

Oldham Benefits Service
PO Box 4
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham, OL1 1UH
Phone: 0161 770 6633

Please include:

  • Any information required to identify the individual
  • Any information necessary to locate the information.

If you prefer, you can authorise an agent or a third party to make the request on your behalf. If we receive a request for personal information from someone acting on another’s behalf, we will make checks to ensure that that person has been authorised to do so.

Your request will be acknowledged within 5 working days and you will receive a full response within 40 days.

Withholding information

In principle you have a right to see all the information we hold about you. There are some types of information that you may not be allowed to see, including:

  • Information which identifies other people (unless they have agreed to the disclosure)
  • Information which, if disclosed, would cause mental harm to you or any other person
  • Information which, if disclosed, would hinder the prevention and detection of crime, or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.

What to do if you think the information held is wrong

If you think any information recorded about you is wrong, you should inform us straight away as this may affect your entitlement.

The Council is committed to the prevention and detection of fraud and may prosecute in cases where deliberate false information is or has been provided.

Information Commissioner's Office

For independent data protection and freedom of information advice.

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel 03031231113