Privacy Notice - Revenues and Benefits
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is a registered data controller and we collect and use information personal to you in accordance with Data Protection legislation.
This outlines what you can expect from us when you provide us with your personal information.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Revenues and Benefits Service have a statutory responsibility for administering council tax, business rates, and claims for housing benefit as well as processing applications for financial support to businesses who are eligible for help from various local and national schemes.
Functions include but not limited to:
- Council Tax
- business rates
- Business Improvement District (BID)
- housing benefit
- welfare rights
- discretionary rate relief
- COVID-related grant schemes
We will only collect and use personal information to enable us to identify you and locate your personal data on our systems, ensuring that any discounts, exemptions, reductions or reliefs are awarded, and the amount due for Council Tax and business rates is charged correctly each year; that any entitlement to housing benefit is correctly calculated and paid; and to enable us to effectively collect Council Tax, business rates and any overpaid housing benefit. Information may also be used for the prevention or detection of crime and fraud, or both, and to comply with our duty to protect public funds.
Why we are asking for your information and how will we use the information about you?
We will ensure that we have a lawful basis to collect your personal information and use it to deliver our services to you.
We may collect and use your personal information with your consent. However in some circumstances we do not require consent as we must comply with our legal obligations, and to carry out tasks in the public interest. The processing is necessary for us to perform our official function - to administer Council Tax accounts in accordance with The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 or assess entitlement to Housing Benefit in accordance with The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, or both, and to administer payments in accordance with the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 (the DFA regulations), to administer business rates in accordance with The Non Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement)(Local Lists) Regulations 1989 and for premises that fall within a BID area this could also include obligations under The Business Improvement Districts Regulations 2004. If we need to collect special category (sensitive) personal information, we rely upon reasons of substantial public interest (equality of opportunity or treatment).
We collect and process information about you for the following purposes:
- assess your liability to pay Council Tax or business rates, or both
- assess any potential entitlement to an exemption, discount, disregard, relief or reduction
- to collect and where necessary recover Council Tax, sundry debt, business rates and BIDs in line with legislation
- to calculate any entitlement to housing benefit
- to calculate any entitlement to a discretionary housing payment
- to calculate any entitlement to a welfare assistance claim
- to respond to requests for advice and guidance
- seek your views or comments on the services we provide
- notify you of changes to our services
- to respond to a complaint
- to respond to Councillor or Member of Parliament enquiries
- to monitor our performance and to set targets for the Council
- derive statistics to inform both local and central government on business rates
- assess your entitlement to discretionary payments in line with Council policies
- assess your eligibility for government-mandated and discretionary grants
- enforcement agents contracted to the Council for the collection of Council Tax, overpaid housing benefit, unpaid sundry debtor accounts, business rates, BIDS and related costs
- prevent business rates avoidance and rates evasion
- for the prevention and detection of crime or fraud including data matching under the National Fraud Initiative
- prevent abuse of public funds
Who will use your information?
In some instances, we may share your information with other services within the Council as part of service delivery or because we are legally required to do so.
We may share your information with, but not limited to the following:
- where we have a statutory obligation to do so, such as for the purposes of the prevention, detection and prosecution of crime or in the interests of public safety
- for enforcement action and legal proceedings in respect of unpaid taxes
- if the benefits to a child or young person that will arise from sharing the information outweigh both the public and any individual's interest in keeping the information confidential
We may share your information with the Electoral Registration Officer in order to fulfil their statutory obligation to maintain a complete and accurate electoral register, or to validate the identity of applicant voters.
In administering your Council Tax account in accordance with The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 or assess your entitlement to Housing Benefit in accordance with The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, or to administer business rates in accordance with The Non Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement)(Local Lists) Regulations 1989, or all as needed, we may share your information with the following organisations but not limited to the following:
- Department of Work and Pensions
- Valuation Office Agency
- our housing department
- our Welfare Rights Team
- private sector housing
- planning department
- customer service centre network
- Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Services
- Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
- Office of National Statistics
- other local authorities
- enforcement agents
- solicitors, insolvency practitioners
We share information with these departments to prevent fraud and also to ensure we are billing the correct liable parties.
We share the information with the Welfare Rights Team to conduct benefit take-up, advice, support or other services the Council may offer.
We share information with the Department for Works and Pensions with regard to requests for attachments of benefits and with employers for requests for attachments to earnings. We share information with the Valuation Office Agency - to ensure we bring properties into the ratings list and bill the liable party for Council Tax.
We share information with Her Majesty's Court Tribunal Service with regard to Council Tax cases where recovery action is proceeding.
We share information with the Office of National Statistics for them to use for statistical and research purposes.
What personal information do we hold about you?
Other organisations may share your personal information with us for the purpose of service delivery or because they are legally required to do so.
You may be asked to enter personal data on one of our forms or asked to give personal information if you call us. 'Personal data' means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.
The personal information we collect could be:
- occupancy status such as how many adults reside in the property and who they are
- who the liable party for Council Tax or business rates, or both, is
- who the benefit claimant is
- employment and benefit details including employer name, pay slips, type of benefit and amount
- contact details such as telephone number or email address
- income and expenditure details, where a customer is in payment default
- bank details for customers paying by Direct Debit or benefit claimants who are paid by Direct Debit.
The above list is not exhaustive. The information we request will be the minimum necessary in order to provide our services effectively and to perform our statutory duties.
We may also hold what is known as special category data which would include information relating to race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data and health data.
To find out more information about this, please contact the Information Governance Team.
How long we will keep your personal information for?
Your information will be held in accordance with the Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Retention Schedule.
Access to your information and correction
You have the right to request the following in relation to the personal information we hold to some legal exceptions, you have the right:
- to have any inaccuracies corrected
- to have your personal data erased
- to place a restriction on our processing of your data
- to object to processing; and
- to request your data to be ported (data portability)
If you would to like to exercise any of the rights outlined above please contact us. If you would like further information about your rights to your information, please visit the Information Commissions Office website.
You also have the right to request a copy of the personal information that the Council holds about you. To do this please complete our online form.
If you have given your consent for us to use your personal information and wish to withdraw this consent contact us.
What happens if I don't provide you with my personal information?
If you do not provide us with the personal information we have requested, it may not be possible to deliver our services to you. For more information about how this might affect you contact us.
Keeping your personal information secure
We have appropriate security measures in place to prevent personal information from being accidentally lost, or used or accessed in an unauthorised way. Those processing your information will do so only in an authorised manner and are subject to a duty of confidentiality.
We also have procedures in place to deal with any suspected data breach. We will notify you and any applicable regulator of a suspected data security breach where we are legally required to do so.
How to contact us
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Data Protection Officer is Kate Fulton.
If something goes wrong with your personal information or if you have any questions about how we use it, please contact the Information Governance Team in the first instance:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone: 01642 527521
If you remain unhappy about the way which we have handled your personal information and wish to complain, you can contact the Information Commissioner's Office.