Lancaster City Council’s Homelessness Team has statutory responsibility for providing housing advice and assistance to residents and assessing homelessness applications in line with relevant legislation for residents who are or who could be threatened with homelessness.
As a housing options / homelessness applicant we collect, process and store personal information about you in order to carry out our functions in line with you housing / homeless application or support functions such as but not limited to referrals to support providers and access to housing temporary or otherwise.
We are committed to protecting your privacy, and this statement is made in light of the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018 in order to advise you how we use your personal information.
When do we collect personal information?
We collect information from you when you apply for assistance from us. In addition, we collect information when you fill in one of our forms, or contact us about your homeless application, either in writing, over the phone, face-to-face in one of our customer contact centres, or in response to a survey.
We may sometimes obtain information about you from third parties, including from:
- The DWP, and other government departments
- The council benefits office (regarding welfare benefit claims)
- Prior landlords
- Other local authorities where you have previously resided outside of the Lancaster District
- Police, welfare or support agencies who are working with you
- Councillors, MPs or other representatives acting on your behalf/instruction
We only collect information from you and third parties which is absolutely necessary for your application / to help us advise you correctly – not providing information requested could result in your application being closed or incorrect advice being provided. It is also a criminal offence to knowlingly or recklessly give false information, or withhold relevant information in your homelessness application.
What personal information do we collect?
As part of your homelessness / housing options application we will collect personal information to help us manage your application and provide you with the correct advice, such:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- National insurance number
- Contact details (phone, email, and correspondence address)
- Details of anyone authorised to act on your behalf (if applicable)
- Basic details (name and date of birth) of household residents
- Proof of housing eligibility (including photo ID, and income details) Details of any disability, or vulnerability – in order to tailor our service and advice to meet your needs.
The information we may collect from you includes:
- Details of any disability, or vulnerability – in order to tailor our service and advice to meet your needs.
- Details of other protected characteristics – in order to tailor our services to better meet the needs of your community.
- Whether you have been a member of the armed forces or previously been in custody or are a care leaver.
- Your financial information – in order to provide basic financial and budgeting advice, and to provide advice assistance should you fall into rent arrears.
- Health information – in order to support an application for housing, or to address a housing related support needs.
You do not have to tell us this information, but we may not be able to provide you with the help you need without it.
How do we use your personal information?
The service we provide is a statutory council function which we provide in line with relevant legislation contained within the Housing Act 1996, Homelessness Act 2002, Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, Code of Guidance and best practice. The processing of your data is necessary for compliance within these regulations and legal obligations.
We use your personal information in order to assess your housing options / homelessness application and provide you with accurate and timely advice and support.
The processing activities can be summarised as:
- Managing your housing options / homelessness application
- Making referrals to appropriate support services
- Managing your temporary accommodation provision where you are accommodated within the Council’s housing stock or bed and breakfast provision paid for by the service
- Complying with relevant legislation and regulation
- During audit and business improvement projects
We may use the personal information we collect to profile communities and our services.
It is in our legitimate interests to use your personally identifiable information for this purpose to understand how we are performing so we can meet our goals and objectives.
We may use your contact details to carry out market research and customer satisfaction surveys to help us to monitor our performance and to improve services to our customers.
There may also be a legal obligation for us to process the information or to demonstrate to regulatory bodies that we are fulfilling our obligations.
We conduct statistical analysis to help improve our service delivery, and to allow us to evaluate our performance against other benchmarks. When possible, statistical information is anonymised or pseudonymised.
We may also share your information with other council services in order to ensure our records are accurate and up-to-date, to improve the standard of the services we deliver, and to perform any of our statutory duties, including enforcement duties.
We are required by law to protect the public funds we administer, and may use your information for the prevention and detection of crime (including fraud and money laundering).
Your information will be kept for 7 years after your application is closed with us.
Do we protect your information?
Your personal data will be treated with the strictest confidence, and only accessible to those who need to access it for the above purposes. We have a data protection regime in place to oversee the effective and secure processing of your personal information, and also utilise appropriate technical safeguards to keep your information secure.
We will only keep your information for as long as it is required by us or other regulatory bodies in order to comply with legal and regulatory requirements, or for other operational reasons. In most cases this will be a maximum of seven years after your application is closed.
Our contractors are required to comply with the law to ensure data is managed appropriately and for specified purposes.
Do we share your information with anyone else?
The council sometimes works with other third-parties to deliver certain services or carry out functions on our behalf. This could include, for example, ICT suppliers, or mail service providers. Where this is the case, we may share your personal information with these third-parties for any of the purposes detailed above. We will always ensure that your information is kept secure, only used for these purposes, and not disclosed further unless required by law.
We may need to share personal information with government departments and agencies, and auditors, or with other organisations and agencies where we are legally allowed to do so.
We may share your information with Salt Ayre Leisure Centre as part of our Homeless Leisure provision initiative, this information will only be shared if you have consented to this.
We participate in the Cabinet Office’s National Fraud Initiative, a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the Minister for the Cabinet Office for matching for each exercise. This data may then be passed on to other public bodies to investigate any matches. For more information see National Fraud Initiative.
We will not share your information with any other organisations unless required to do so by law.
Your rights and how to find out more
You have a number of rights under data protection law, including the right to ask for a copy of the information we hold about you, and the right to object to our use of your information in certain circumstances. Where you have previously given us consent to use your information for a specific purpose, you can also withdraw this consent at any time.
For further information about your rights, how we use your information, and how to get in touch if you have a query or complaint, please see our main privacy notice.
We reserve the right to amend this privacy notice at any time. However, we take your privacy very seriously and will never change our policies or practices to make them less protective of your personal information.
If we make any changes to this policy that significantly affect you, we will aim to notify you directly if we hold contact details for you. You will always be able to find the most up-to-date version of this policy on this page.
Last updated: August 2022
Last updated: 27 September 2022