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Benefits - Privacy Notice

As part of the assessment to entitlement to Housing Benefit and Discretionary Housing Payments, St Helens Council will collect personal data about you and your family.

What Information do we hold?

  • Name, address, address history, date of birth and gender
  • Contact details, including telephone numbers and email addresses
  • The national insurance number and income and capital details, including any employer information for you, your partner (if you have one) and anyone else who may live with you
  • Details about your family, dependants (including school information) and non dependants
  • Details of your landlord and tenancy agreement including the amount of rent you pay
  • Bank account details
  • Statements or evidence from your landlord, medical professionals, social or support workers or similar other professionals or organisations.
  • Online portal registration details if you register for an online account or e-notifications.

Who is processing my data?

All personal data we hold is treated as confidential and will be held securely in accordance with data protection legislation. It will only be used for the assessment of entitlement to  Housing Benefit and Discretionary Housing Payments unless otherwise stated.

The Council has contracts with suppliers who may process your data on our behalf and are designated data processors. Contracts include: software suppliers; hybrid mail providers; scanning bureau; and debt collection agencies.

Legal basis for processing your data

The legal basis for processing your data is:

  • the Social Security Administration Act
  • the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act
  • the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act
  • the Housing Benefit Regulations
  • the Welfare Reform Act
  • the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001

The Council has a duty to protect the public funds it administers and may use the information provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with the Department for Work and Pensions, or other bodies administering public funds solely for these purposes.

How do we use the information we hold about you?

We collect information about you:

  • to process an application for Housing Benefit or Discretionary Housing Payment
  • to use bank account information to process payments of Housing Benefit / Discretionary Housing Payment being made directly to you or a landlord
  • to allow the Council to communicate with you and to provide services appropriate to your needs including the take-up of relevant services
  • to protect public funds including: the prevention and detection of fraud.

Who we will share your information with and why

We will only disclosure information to other bodies where it is allowed by law. This includes:

  • Internal use - other services within St Helens Council for the purpose of holding accurate records in respect of residency or where it is allowed for by law.
  • Your representatives - including but not limited to appointees, Members of Parliament, Councillors, where you have provided consent.
  • Courts – for recovery purposes
  • The Department for Work and Pensions – for recovery or statistical and analytical purposes
  • Collection agents authorised to collect debt in accordance with agreed contracts.
  • Fraud prevention – including the National Fraud Initiative and National Anti-Fraud Network.
  • Other contractors – where we have a legal agreement for them to process your data on our behalf.
  • Tribunals and ombudsman – in response to appeals or complaints you have made.
  • Police, law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities - for the prevention or investigation of crime

Transfers out of EU

  • No data will be transferred or held outside the EU.

We will receive information from the following sources

  • Department for Work and Pensions, if you claim Housing Benefit.
  • Other organisations, including government departments, where we have a legal right to request information or to verify information you have provided including social or support workers, employers and landlords.

How long do we retain your information for

  • Application forms and other information that you provide in respect of Housing Benefit or Discretionary Housing Payments be retained for a maximum of six years.

Automated decision making

  • Automated decision making is where an electronic system uses personal information to make a decision without human intervention. This may occur in certain processes which meet defined criteria. Applications that fail to meet defined criteria will be reviewed manually.      
  • If you are not satisfied with a decision you have the right to ask for the decision to be reviewed. In certain circumstances, you may also be able to make an appeal to an independent tribunal.
  • Your data is not subject to automated profiling.

Your rights

For more information on your rights please visit:

https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/council/data-protection-freedom-of-information/data-protection/

These rights may be restricted subject to St Helens Council undertaking its statutory obligations in accordance with The Local Government Finance Act 1992 and other legislation.