This privacy notice sets out how Merton will use and process your information under the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support service.
What type of information is collected about you
In order to calculate Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction we collect information about, you, your partner, your children and other adults that live in your household. This includes but is not limited to:
- date of birth,
- National Insurance Number,
- earned income,
- benefits and allowances,
- bank accounts,
- property ownership,
- immigration details
- and any other information required to decide your claim
Why we need your information
Merton Benefits Service needs your information to decide whether you are eligible for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support. The information we collect and the information provided to us by the Department for Work and Pensions is required for the calculation of your Housing Benefit and or Council Tax Support claim.
We use the information in order to administer Housing Benefit under the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 and associated Regulations.
We use the information in order to administer our Council Tax Reduction scheme under S13A and Schedule 1a of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and associated Regulations.
We will use the information to make you liable (if appropriate) for Council Tax at your address.
We may use your information to help collect debts like Council Tax.
We may use the information held to assist in the recovery of Housing Benefit Overpayments.
We have a duty to protect public funds we administer, and may use information held about you for all lawful purposes, including and not limited to the prevention and detection of fraud, matching council tax data with electoral registration records and protecting public funds in investigating misuse of public money.
The lawful basis for using your information
We collect and use information under one or more of the following legal basis:
- Public task – we need to process your information to comply with the law such as schools admissions, waste collection, collecting council tax etc.
- Legitimate interest – we need to process your information and share in your interests e.g. Safeguarding
- Legal obligation – we need to share your information with public authorities e.g. HMRC
Who your information may be shared with
Internal to London Borough of Merton
We may share information collected with other departments in the Council, including:
- Local Welfare Support and Universal Support
- Council Tax
- Financial Assessments Team
- Housing Needs Team
- Electoral Services
- Blue Badge team
- Adult social care
- Schools admission (for free school meals)
This may be for help with an application for another council service – e.g. if you apply for one or more of the following;
- a Blue badge
- a Disabled Facilities Grant
- a Discretionary Housing Payment
- help with non-statutory assistance (better known as supporting people services)
- residential care
- Domiciliary care - such as day care, home helps and meals.
External to London Borough of Merton
By law, we must share some information if we are asked - for example by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue & Customs.
If you are awarded Housing Benefit or Discretionary Housing Payment and we pay this directly to your landlord we will share details about:
- the amount of the weekly award;
- any changes to the amount of the award;
- the dates that a payment covers;
- when the direct payments cease (once we stop direct payments no further payment details will be shared);
- any overpayments of the payments they have received;
- any sundry debt invoices they have been sent, to recover overpayments they received.
If you have agreed that we can give information about the progress of your claim to your landlord, we can tell them where your claim is up to if they ask. We will not share information about your household or their personal information unless we have written permission from them. Please see our Landlord disclosure policy for further information.
If you are a private tenant, we usually have to give the Valuation Office Agency Rent Service details about your home and rent.
We have a duty to protect public funds we administer, and may use information held about you for all lawful purposes, including and not limited to the prevention and detection of fraud, matching council tax and housing benefit data to the information you have given us and protecting public funds in investigating misuse of public money.
We will also use the information for the purpose of performing any statutory enforcement duties. We will make any disclosures required by law and may also share this information with other bodies responsible for detecting/preventing fraud or auditing/ administering public funds. We may share the details with other organisations that handle public funds.
How long we keep your information
We retain your information for six years after the last payment on a 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
We will only use your information to contact you about your Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support or Council Tax. We may occasionally contact you with information we think may benefit or help you, for example information about grants and services that are available. We will not however, pass on your details to any 3rd party organisations.
We do not use your personal information for Business Intelligence purposes. For details, please see the relevant section of the Corporate Privacy Notice
We do not use your personal information for profiling purposes. For details, please see the relevant section of the Corporate Privacy Notice
Automated decision making
We do not conduct automated decision making in Housing Benefits and Council Tax Support. For details, please see the relevant section of the Corporate Privacy Notice
Protecting your information
For details, please see the relevant section of the Corporate Privacy Notice
How you can access, update, restrict, remove or correct your information
Generally speaking you do not have the right to be forgotten or to erase parts or all of the information we hold for the purposes described above, as we require this as our legal obligation to assess entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.
Please note that if you do not consent to provide the information we have asked for we will not be able to assess Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support entitlement.
For full details, please see the relevant section of the Corporate Privacy Notice