Benefits privacy notice

What service is being provided?

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office for the purposes of processing personal data. The Local Authority (LA) uses personal information it collects as a legal obligation or public duty to administer its duties in the processing of housing benefit, council tax support and local welfare assistance. This enables the LA to:

  • maintain its own accounts and records 
  • promote the services it provides 
  • administer the assessment and collection of taxes and other revenue including benefits and grants 
  • administer all activities it is required to carry out as a data controller and public authority 
  • data match under local and national fraud initiatives

The information you provide

The information you provide will be held and used in accordance with the requirements of UK and European data protection law. 

Don't you need my permission to keep and share information about me?

We would need your consent if the LA’s legal basis for collecting and processing your personal information is consent.

Although your information is confidential, we may have to share information about you/your family without your permission. These reasons are:

  • To protect you from harm, neglect, abuse or significant threat
  • When you may need urgent medical treatment
  • To prevent or detect a crime

Are there any laws applicable in the processing and protection of my information?

There are a number of laws which allow for the protection, collection and processing of your personal information for this purpose, such as:

  • Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 
  • Social Security (Consequential Provisions) Act 1992 
  • Social Security Act 1998 
  • The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 No. 1002
  • Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 
  • Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 
  • Welfare Reform Act 2012 
  • The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 
  • The Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006 
  • Local Government Finance Act 1992 
  • The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009
  • Social Security Fraud Act 2001
  • The Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 No.1167       Localism Act 2011
  • The General Data Protection Regulations and The Data Protection Bill 2018     The Human Rights Act 1998

What data do we collect?

We receive your personal information from:

  • yourself including via your online application forms. 
  • from the DWP, HMRC or your landlords and other parties such as credit reference agencies. 

We use this information to decide entitlement to housing benefit, discounts for council tax and educational benefits (Free School Meals and Clothing Grants) including onward referral to other organisations and digital support for online benefit applications. 

 We collect and process personal and special categories information such as:

  • name, date of birth, address, gender, ethnicity 
  • health e.g. disabilities and special educational needs
  • family details 
  • financial details 
  • employment and education details 
  • housing needs 
  • visual images, personal appearance and behaviour 
  • tenancy/licenses agreements 
  • business activities - self-employed claims 

Who will be using your personal data?

Some of the information we hold about you may be subject to automated processing in the interests of efficiency. You can request that a person reviews an automated decision made using data we hold about you. When decisions are made you will receive written/electronic notifications of any decisions made which will explain how you can request that a person reviews the decision.

Regular checks are made to ensure that automated decisions are correct.

The Data Controller is London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

The Data Protection Officer for London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham can be contacted at information.management@lbhf.gov.uk 

The Data Processor(s) supporting this purpose is the IT Software provider who hosts and manages our comments data

 Who else might we share your data with?

The information provided may be shared with the Information Commissioner’s Office, who have demonstrated that they have a lawful and legitimate interest in the information, for the purposes of investigating a complaint made by you in the handling of your request.  At no point is your data shared or processed outside of the UK.

The LA has a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and accordingly may use the information you have provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. 

As part of the Council's fraud prevention and detection activities the Council participates in the London counter-fraud hub. The hub is run by CIPFA on behalf of a number of London Boroughs. As a participant in the hub, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham will share your details with the hub in order to protect against fraud. Your details will be checked in the counter-fraud hub to ensure the information that you have provided is accurate and to identify any suspected fraudulent claims. If fraud is suspected your information may be shared with other London Boroughs that are identified as being affected by the suspected fraud.

The council may also share this information with law enforcement agencies and other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes. 

Please see below which outlines the powers and functions which London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham may rely upon to enable data sharing with the London Counter Fraud Hub.

We also share information with other local authorities in order to assist with Troubled Families (now Supporting Families)

We sometimes need to share information with the individuals we process information about and other organisations. Where this is necessary we are required to comply with all aspects of the data protection legislation.  What follows is a description of the types of organisations we may need to share some of the personal information we process with for one or more reasons. For further details, please refer to the Council’s corporate privacy notice Here

Where necessary or required we share information with: 

  • family, associates or representatives of the person whose personal data we are processing with consent
  • current past and prospective employers  
  • Schools – in respect of education benefits
  • Education department to ensure maximum take up of education benefits
  • financial organisations 
  • service providers 
  • local and central government (DWP, HMRC, Pension Service, GLA, & DCLG),
  • ombudsman and regulatory authorities 
  • professional advisers and consultants 
  • courts and tribunals 
  • credit reference agencies 
  • housing associations and landlords 
  • voluntary and charitable organisations 
  • data processors 
  • local and central government 
  • law enforcement and prosecuting authorities 
  • legal representatives, defence solicitors
  • Third Party processing with nominated contractors such as Civica

How do I know the information about me is kept safely?

All the information we collect is stored securely on our IT systems and manual filing systems. We have strict procedures for the way this is done. Any and all information about you is treated as confidential and with respect. There are also clear rules and guidance about storing, recording and sharing information which staff receive training on.

We take information sharing very seriously. Appropriate council and health staff are DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checked. Any member of staff who is found to be breaking the rules will be dealt with through appropriate disciplinary procedures.

The information we hold will not be stored in or accessible from countries with non- UK-equivalent Privacy Law protections

We retain your information for six years after the last payment on the claim. If a claim has an outstanding overpayment, we will retain your information for six years after full repayment of the overpayment.

If the claim has an active fraud investigation, we will retain all information until 6 years after the end of the fraud investigation and conclusion of court action.

Marketing and e-Newsletters

Hammersmith & Fulham Council always acts upon your choices around what type of communications you want to receive and how you want to receive them. Where you have signed up for one of our newsletters, we use email newsletters to inform you of what we’re doing, news and events.

Tools may be used to help us improve the effectiveness of our communications with you, including tracking whether the emails we send are opened and which links are clicked within a message. This helps us to improve and refine future email marketing around our campaigns and make sure all our emails are relevant and useful as possible.

You have a choice about whether or not you wish to receive information from us. If though you no longer want to receive our e-newsletters, then you can do this by clicking the unsubscribe link on every email. You can find out more about the e-newsletters

Business intelligence, profiling and automated-decision making

Business intelligence:

We may analyze your personal information to improve services and for the following purposes;

  • undertake statutory functions efficiently and effectively
  • service planning by understanding your needs to provide the services that you request
  • understanding what we can do for you and inform you of other relevant services and benefits
  • help us to build up a picture of how we are performing at delivering services to you and what services the people of Hammersmith & Fulham need
  • analysis of costs and spend of services we provide so that we can to ensure better and efficient use of public funds
  • evaluating, monitoring health of the Hammersmith & Fulham population and protecting and improving public health

The council is however committed to using pseudonymized or anonymized information as much as is practical, and in many cases, this will be the default position.

Pseudonymization is a procedure by which the most identifying fields within a data record are replaced by one or more artificial identifiers, or pseudonyms. There can be a single pseudonym for a collection of replaced fields or a pseudonym per replaced field.

Anonymization is the process of removing identifying particulars or details from (something, especially medical test results) for statistical or other purposes.

Developing and testing business applications

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham may use the information you give us to maintain and improve the services which we deliver, this includes developing and upgrading the systems which we use to process your information.

Our use of your data will be subject to the following legal rights:

  • Your Right to be Informed
  • Your Right to Access your personal data
  • Your Right for us to Rectify your personal data
  • Your Right to Restrict our processing of your personal data

You have the right of access to the personal data we process about you, and in this instance, the right of objection and or restriction to the processing. For details of how to make such a request, please see your data rights and how to exercise them.

Visit the following links for more information about Privacy Law, our obligations and your rights:

The ICO Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation 2016

The General Data Protection Regulation 2016

If you have concerns over the way we are asking for or using your personal data, please raise the matter with our H&F In Touch Team by the following means:

  • H&F In Touch Team, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Hammersmith, London, W6 9JU
  • handfintouch@lbhf.gov.uk
  • 020 8748 2456

If you still have concerns following our response you have the right to raise the matter with the Information Commissioner's Office: