Benefits and Local Discretionary Social Fund services privacy notice

Read our privacy notice for information on how we collect, store and process your data.

The data controller for your data

Brighton & Hove City Council is the data controller for the purpose of the Data Protection Act (2018) and The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 ("GDPR") and is registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under registration number Z5840053.

Brighton & Hove City Council is committed to protecting your personal information. As a data controller we have a responsibility to make sure you know why and how your personal information is being collected in accordance with relevant data protection law.

Why we’re collecting your data

The Benefits service collects your personal information for the purpose of administering Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Discretionary Payments and Local Discretionary Social Fund awards, as well as providing Welfare Support and advice to financially vulnerable households in the city.

We use your information to establish eligibility and entitlement to Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and discretionary awards. The information collected from you will vary depending on the nature of the service. Our processing activity may include:

  • Creating benefit claims and requesting supporting evidence to assess entitlement
  • Calculating entitlement and issuing notification of awards
  • Making payments and recovering benefits that have been overpaid
  • Assessing and awarding Discretionary Payments and Local Discretionary Social Fund Payments
  • Determining appeals and making submissions to the Tribunals Service or Valuation Tribunal Service
  • Supporting customers struggling with debt or at risk of homelessness or affected by the Benefit Cap and providing advice on maximising household income and opportunity
  • Providing emergency help with food, energy bills and essential items to customers who are vulnerable and in financial difficulty

We may use your information where relevant to make you liable for Council Tax at your address if you are the taxpayer. We also use your data to resolve complaints and protect public funds through the detection and prevention of crime and fraud, including data-matching. We may also undertake consultations in connection with the administration of the Council Tax Reduction scheme. If we use your information for statistical or research purposes we will only use anonymised data.

We will use your information to help us confirm your identity when you contact our services. We may also check your data with other sources to ensure the information you have provided is accurate and up-to-date. Sometimes we will receive information about you from other organisations, including the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenues and Customs and landlords.

If you do not provide the information requested it may not be possible to assess your entitlement and make an award. 

What is the legal basis for collecting your data

We have a legal obligation for processing your information in accordance with the following regulations:

  • Housing Benefit General Regulations 2006 (and associated regulations)
  • S13A and Schedule 1a of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (Administration of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme)
  • Welfare Reform Act 2012
  • Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc) Regulations 2012
  • Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 (Administration of Discretionary Housing Payments)
  • Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001
  • Localism Act 2011 (Administration of local discretionary funding)

In some circumstances we collect special category data about health to administer discretionary awards and provide additional support services. We have a legal basis of substantial public interest to process this information for these purposes.

The data we may collect

The type of personal data we may collect from you is as follows:

  • Information about you, such as your name, address, date of birth, telephone number, email address, social media profiles, National Insurance numbers
  • Details about your household income and expenditure, earnings, self-employment, allowances, benefits, tax credits, pensions, student finance, debts, savings and investments, property ownership, child care costs, including those of your partner
  • Information about your landlord, your rent and any services it includes
  • Property details, such as the number and type of rooms in your home
  • Details about other people in your household and their relationship to you
  • Your bank details for making payment
  • Other relevant information needed to process your application, such as your employer details or evidence of education or training

We may also collect special category (sensitive data) personal data that may include:

  • Information about physical or mental health issues and disabilities that may affect your entitlement to benefits or discretionary assistance  
  • Details of your immigration status or EEA Worker status to help us decide if you have a right to access public funds or are eligible to access Housing Benefit
  • Gender and gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Criminal proceedings, outcomes and sentences if you have been found guilty of fraud or admitted fraud after a caution, or agreed to pay an administrative penalty because of a Housing Benefit overpayment.

Who we’ll share your data with

We share information with a range of organisations depending on the service being provided and the statutory requirements we have to comply with. We only share information where it is necessary and appropriate to do so and we ensure it is used safely and securely. We require anyone we share information with, or who uses it on our behalf, to do so too. All our staff receive training on data protection and information security. 

Your personal data may be shared with:

  • other council departments, other councils and local government organisations;
  • other central government organisations and statutory bodies, such as the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, the Valuation Tribunal Service, HM Land Registry, the Cabinet Office and HM Prison service;
  • ombudsman and regulatory authorities;
  • third parties commissioned by the council or customers to process data or provide goods and services, including contractors, enforcement agents and IT software providers, removal companies;
  • debt collection and tracing agencies;
  • the Insolvency Service and Insolvency Practitioners;
  • credit reference agencies;
  • law enforcement and fraud prevention agencies, such as Sussex Police and prosecuting authorities;
  • Housing Associations, registered providers, landlords and their agents;
  • health, social care and welfare organisations;
  • voluntary, charitable and community organisations who assist people in need;
  • internal and external auditors.
  • the council operates shared services with Surrey County Council and East Sussex County Council. We may share your information with one of these partners if necessary to provide these services.
  • We also share data with the social policy software & analytics company Policy in Practice to help analyse the impact of policy, identify those impacted and track the effectiveness of our interventions 

If you have given us your written permission your information may be shared with:

  • A named friend or family member; a support worker or other individual authorised by you to act on your behalf, such as a charity or voluntary sector representative;
  • Your landlord; we will not contact your landlord unless you have agreed for us to give information to your landlord about your claim. If your Housing Benefit is paid directly to your landlord we will only inform your landlord when they will be paid and the amount of Housing Benefit due to be paid to them on your behalf.

There are other specific situations where we may be required to disclose information about you, such as:

  • where we are required to provide the information by law
  • where disclosing the information is required to prevent or detect a crime, including fraud
  • where disclosure is in the vital interests of the person concerned

How long we’ll keep data for and why

The retention of your personal information is in line with the Storage Limitation principle in the General Data Protection Regulation. How long we keep it will vary according to the services you are involved with and the legal basis for processing within those services.

However the principles we will use to determine how long your data will be kept include:

  • What type of services you received and whether you are still receiving them
  • Whether we are still under a legal obligation either to you or under UK law.
  • Any standards and guidance set out by the various regulators for our functions.
  • Whether you have expressed a preference about your data being retained, such as through exercising a right to restrict processing.

How your data will be stored

  • Our customer database is hosted remotely in a secure cloud environment owned and maintained by our approved data processor. All data centres are located within the UK
  • Your information will be stored electronically. Any paper correspondence will be scanned onto the system and held for three months before being securely shredded.
  • We will only make your information available to those who have a right to see it. Some examples of the security measures we use include:
    • Training for our staff how to process information securely and how and when to report incidents when something goes wrong
    • We use encryption so information is hidden and cannot be read without specialist knowledge, such as a password. This is done with a secret code and the hidden information is then said to be ‘encrypted’.
    • Pseudonymisation, meaning we will use a different name so we can hide parts of your personal information from view. This means someone outside of the Council could work on your information for us without knowing your personal details.
  • We control access to systems and networks to stop people who are not allowed to view your personal information from gaining access to it.
  • We regularly test our technology and ways of working, including keeping up to date with the latest security updates (commonly called patches).

Transferring data outside the European Economic Area

We do not transfer any of your personal information outside of the UK.

Your rights

Depending on the legal basis for processing your information you may have the following rights:

  • A right to a copy of data held about you, an explanation for its processing and who it has been shared with – this right applies to data processed under any lawful basis
  • A right to rectification (correction) of data which is demonstrably wrong – this right applies to data processed under any legal basis
  • A right to restrict processing – this right applies if it has been shown that there is no legal basis for processing your data but you wish it to be retained
  • A right to object to processing – this right does not apply where the Council is under a legal duty to process your data but can be used where you dispute that there is a legal basis to process your data until the Council can demonstrate what basis exists
  • A right to erasure – this applies where there is no longer a legal basis to retain your data
  • A right to portability of your data (having it moved to another organisation) – this right applies only where the legal basis was either consent or the performance of a contract but data will usually be transferred to another local authority if a child in care moves to a new location.
  • A right to object to automated decision making – this right is applicable under all lawful bases for processing

How to get advice or make a complaint

Data protection contact information 

If you’d like to discuss your data protection rights, you can contact the Data Protection Team. Only use these contact details if you have questions about data protection and not for questions about other services. 

We also have a Data Protection Officer. Visit our data protection officer page to find their contact details. 

Please contact the Data Protection Team first if you have any concerns. 

You can then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is the national regulator with responsibility for ensuring compliance with data protection.