Information – what we hold and how you access it

We hold a range of information, some of which is personal. Personal information can include the data used for the assessment and collection of Council Tax and Business rates, the payment of benefits, grants and loans administration and for the collection of waste.

How do we manage information?

The Government has set out a number of data protection principles that we must follow when using personal data. These principles are detailed in the Data Protection Act 1998. How we comply with the requirements is explained in our West Suffolk data protection policy and our records retention guidance.

Both Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury councils act as a Data Controller registered with the Information Commissioner You can search for the councils' register entry which gives a general description of what personal data is used for at: Information Commissioner's Office, register of data controllers

Our Information Charter sets out the standards that you can expect from us when we process information about you.

Do we need consent to use information about you?

Usually, the information we hold about you has been collected for a specific purpose. Your consent may be needed when we want to use data for a different purpose. For example, we collect your name and address so we can send Council Tax bills, but we would need your permission if we used this information to send you something else at another time.

However, your consent is not required when we are obliged under law to assist in the prevention and detection of crime, for example through the National Fraud Initiative or where the information is needed to carry out a legal function, such as the collection of Council Tax. All application forms and requests for information must explain why we need the information requested and whether or not we need your consent.

How we use your information - and the National Fraud Initiative (NFI)

The information you give when you complete and return a form electronically or on paper will be held in accordance with current data protection legislation.

The authorities are required by law to protect the public funds they administer. We may share information provided to us with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, or where undertaking a public function, in order to prevent and detect fraud.

The Cabinet Office is responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal
information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it may indicate that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.

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, as detailed on Gov.UK - National Fraud Initiative

The use of data by the Cabinet Office in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under Part 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Data matching by the Cabinet Office is subject to a code of practice

More information on the Cabinet Office's legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information

For more information on data matching at West Suffolk contact

How you can access information that we hold about you

Under the Data Protection Act, you can ask us for access to information that we hold about you. This is called a subject access request. You will need to request this information in writing. To help you in this process we have prepared a Subject Access Request form that you can download and complete.

You will be required to provide proof of identity in person and a fee which is currently £10 (cheques payable to either Forest Heath District Council or St Edmundsbury Borough Council) which should be sent with your completed request. If you are unsure which council you need, visit: Gov.UK, find your local council

If the information is incorrect you must write to us and tell us what information is incorrect and ask that it be corrected. We must confirm it has been corrected within 21 days of receiving your request. If we do not agree that the information is incorrect you may ask us to record your disagreement.

If you wish to complain about the way in which your request has been processed then your complaint will be dealt with as a Step two complaint in accordance with our complaints procedure. If, after an internal review, you are still unhappy with the decision, you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner, visit their page: Information Commissioner, report a concern