Manchester City Council

Benefits & support Benefits customers: how we may use your details

Privacy Notice - data sharing with credit reference agencies

The law allows the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to share information about its customers with local authorities (councils) for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support purposes, so that we (the council) can work out the correct amount of benefits and support to award. Council staff who administer Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support have electronic access to the DWP information they need to do this.

The law also allows the DWP to data match Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support details with information held by credit reference agencies.

Data matching is where records held on one computer system are compared electronically with records on one or more other systems. The DWP may compare computer records about Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support with information on computer systems used by the credit reference agencies to identify possible fraud or error.

The DWP currently has a contract with a credit reference agency called Experian to carry out data matching for each council. This is to identify people who are living with a partner but who have not told the council this. The contract makes it clear that no electronic 'footprint' will be left on individual customers' credit accounts. This means that the data matching will not affect people's credit ratings. The contract also says that Experian must not use the information for any other purpose.

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