Much of the information we hold or have the ability to access about our customers is only available to us by the permission of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesties Revenues and Customs (HMRC) This means that we (the council) are not free to decide how it is used. This has always been the case, but GDPR has meant that both agencies have tightened up their rules on how we share their information and who we can share it with considerably.
There can be severe consequences for any local authority that doesn’t comply with DWP / HMRC requirements. More generally, as GDPR takes its effects we have also had to look at all other types of information we hold about our customers and the combined result is that we have had to review our own procedures substantially. One of the actions that has come out of this process is that we have had to re-design our Data Protection Waiver form. The new version which we need people to start using immediately is available here.
Please also see this document which sets out some more detail about our data protection requirements. In the bullet points below – I’ve picked out just a few things I want to emphasize.
To stress some key points about contacting us and the new waiver form:
• Most information landlords ask us for is already held by their tenant. For example, if an application has been received, whether we are awaiting information or if an assessment has been made. Wherever possible, landlords should check these points with their tenant before attempting to contact us.
• If a landlord is already receiving direct payments of Housing Benefit, they can see all of their payment information over our online landlord portal. They can also see whether a new claim has been registered or if an existing claim is in payment, cancelled or suspended.
• Data Protection Waiver forms can no longer be used to give permission for all staff within an organisation to contact us. Instead – forms can only give permission for a named individual within that organisation to contact us. Although there is no reason why the tenant cannot complete more than one form naming different staff members.
• If we currently hold one of the earlier data protection forms – we will accept one enquiry being made by the stakeholder, but would immediately ask that they provide an up to date form, before we can accept any further queries.
We don’t want to make things more difficult for anyone but we are working under some very tight constraints about what we can or can’t share. For more information see the document we have linked to – or drop me an email at email@example.com