The Homefinder Somerset Partnership is committed to protecting your privacy when you use our services.
The Homefinder Somerset Partnership is a countywide partnership, consisting of the four Local Authorities and the majority of Social Landlords operating within Somerset. The Local Authorities jointly manage the housing register and are responsible for ensuring that your personal information is kept secure. For the purposes of Data Protection, the four Local Authorities are acting as Data Controllers for the information collected and processed on the Homefinder Somerset system.
The Social Landlords advertise their vacant housing and support through the Homefinder Somerset system and access the housing register to aid them in allocating properties to those on the waiting list.
The privacy notice below explains how we use information about you collected through the Homefinder Somerset System and how we protect your privacy. The Social Landlords may provide further privacy information in relation to any further personal information that they may collect.
Why we use personal information
Do you know what personal information is?
Personal information can be anything that identifies and relates to a living person. This can include information that, when put together with other information, can then identify a person. For example, this could be your name and contact details.
Did you know that some of your personal information might be ‘special’?
Some information is ‘special’ and needs more protection due to its sensitivity. It’s often information you would not want widely known and is very personal to you. This is likely to include anything that can reveal your:
sexuality and sexual health;
religious or philosophical beliefs;
physical or mental health;
trade union membership;
Why do we need your personal information?
The personal information you provide will be used by the partner Local Authorities and the Social Landlords to:
Maintain the common housing register;
Send you information about possible accommodation or support services which may be of interest to you;
Assess your eligibility for accommodation including the requesting and providing tenancy references;
Provide accommodation or housing-related support.
Plan for future housing needs. This may include sharing data with the Community Council for Somerset or Smart Communities Ltd (a company which is owned by the Community Council for Somerset), and contacting you as part of a survey to establish the need for homes in the area in which you live, have a local connection to, or have expressed a preference for.
Conduct surveys regarding your customer experience in order to improve the service.
Provide you with an online account and send messages about the system.
In South Somerset and Sedgemoor, this information will be used to manage your homeless application and provide data to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG)
If we want to use your information for a reason, other than those above, we will contact you to let you know first, unless we are not required to do so. For example if a person is under investigation for fraud, letting them know that an investigation is taking place may disrupt the investigation so we would not need to tell them.
How the law allows us to use your personal information
The personal information you provide as part of your application, including Special Categories of Data, is needed to help the Local Authorities to provide a housing service. This service is provided for reasons of substantial public interest and to fulfil the Local Authorities’ legal obligations to provide support and advice in relation to housing and homelessness; this includes maintaining a housing register.
If you do not provide your personal information, the Local Authorities will not be able to provide this service to you.
Who do we share your personal information with?
Personal information will be shared with the other Councils and Social Landlords in the Partnership for the purpose of allocating and offering you housing. In addition, information may also be shared with other organisations including:
other Councils, current or former landlords, government agencies and other relevant agencies and organisations, including the Police, Probations Service, NHS including your Doctors, Credit Reference Agencies, CAB, Mental Health Services, Tenant Accreditation Services, YMCA, Councillors, Job Centres, MP's Office, Now Medical, Agencies offering related support services and Social Services etc., to ensure your application is accurate. If you would like a list of the organisations that we have shared your personal information with, please go to the website of the Local Authority dealing with your application, or contact the Local Authority for more information.
The Social Landlords may also share your personal information, where necessary, with data/credit reference agencies to check your credit worthiness.
The personal information you provide to the Homefinder Somerset Partnership is held on a computerised database which is hosted by another organisation, called Abritas. We have an agreement in place to make sure that Abritas complies with data protection law and they are not allowed to use your personal information for their own business purposes, unless you have agreed to this.
Sometimes we will share your personal information when we feel there’s a good reason that’s more important than protecting your privacy. This doesn’t happen often, but we may share your information:
in order to find and stop crime and fraud;
if there are serious risks to the public, our staff or to other professionals;
to protect a child; or
to protect adults who are thought to be at risk, for example if they are frail, confused or cannot understand what is happening to them.
For all these reasons the risk must be serious before we can override your right to privacy.
If we’re worried about your physical safety or feel we need to take action to protect you from being harmed in other ways, we’ll discuss this with you and, if possible, get your permission to tell others about your situation before doing so. However, we may still share your information if we believe the risk is serious enough to do so.
There may also be rare occasions when the risk to others is so great that we need to share information straight away.
Where information is shared in this way, we’ll make sure that we record what information we share and our reasons for doing so. We’ll let you know what we have done and why, if it safe to do so, unless we are not required to do so. For example if a person is under investigation for fraud, letting them know that an investigation is taking place may disrupt the investigation so we would not need to tell them.
National Fraud Initiative
The Local Authorities and the Social Landlords are under a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information you have provided on this form for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.
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.
The partner Local Authorities and the Social Landlords participate in the Cabinet Office’s National Fraud Initiative: a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud and are required to provide particular sets of data to the Minister for the Cabinet Office for matching for each exercise.
What you can do with your information
The law gives you a number of rights to control what personal information is used by us and how it is used by us.
You can ask for access to the information we hold on you
You have the right to ask for all the information we have about you and the services you receive from us. When we receive a request from you in writing, we must give you access to the information we hold about you.
However, we can’t let you see any parts of your record which contain:
confidential information about other people; or
data a professional thinks will cause serious harm to you or someone else’s physical or mental wellbeing; or
if we think that giving you the information may stop us or another organisation from preventing or detecting a crime.
This applies to personal information that is in both paper and electronic records. If you ask us, we’ll also let others see your record (except if one of the points above applies).
If you would like to ask for access to the information that we hold on you please contact the Local Authority dealing with your application.
You can ask to change information you think is inaccurate
You should let us know if you disagree with something written on your file.
We may not always be able to change or remove that information but we’ll correct factual inaccuracies and may include your comments in the record to show that you disagree with it.
If you would like to ask to change information you think is inaccurate please contact the Local Authority dealing with your application.
You can ask to delete information (right to be forgotten)
In some circumstances you can ask for your personal information to be deleted, for example:
where your personal data is no longer needed for the reasons why it was collected in the first place;
where you have removed your consent for us to use your information (where there is no other legal reason for us to use it);
where there is no legal reason for the use of your information;
where deleting the information is a legal requirement.
Where your personal information has been shared with others, we’ll do what we can to make sure those using your personal information comply with your request for deletion.
Please not that we can’t delete your information where:
we’re required to have it by law;
it is used for freedom of expression;
it is used for public health purposes;
it is for, scientific or historical research, or statistical purposes where it would make information unusable; or
it is necessary for legal claims.
If you would like to ask for your information to be deleted please contact the Local Authority dealing with your application.
You can ask to limit what we use your personal data for
You have the right to ask us to restrict what we use your personal information for where:
you have identified inaccurate information, and have told us of it;
where we have no legal reason to use that information but you want us to restrict what we use it for rather than delete the information altogether.
When information is restricted is can’t be used other than to securely store the data and with your consent to handle legal claims and protect others, or where it’s for important public interests of the UK.
Where restriction of use has been granted, we’ll inform you before we carry on using your personal information.
You have the right to ask us to stop using your personal information for any Homefinder Somerset service. However, if this request is approved this may cause delays or prevent us delivering that service altogether.
Where possible, we’ll seek to comply with your request, but we many need to hold or use information because we are required to by law.
If you would like to ask us to limit what we use your personal data for please contact the Local Authority dealing with your application.
You can ask to have your information moved to another provider (data portability)
You have the right to ask for your personal data to be given back to you or another service provider of your choice in a commonly used format. This is called data portability.
However, this only applies if we’re using your personal information with consent (not if we’re required to by law) and if decision were made by a computer and not a human being.
It is likely that data portability won’t apply to Homefinder Somerset services.
You can ask to have any computer made decisions explained to you, and details of how we may have ‘risk profiled’ you
You have the right to question decisions made about you by a computer, unless it’s required for any contract you have entered into, required by law, or you’ve consented to it.
Element of the system use data that you have provided to assess your housing need, i.e. bedroom eligibility. This process is set out in the Homefinder Somerset Policy.
You also have the right to object if you are being ‘profiled’. Profiling is where decisions are made about you based on certain things in your personal information, e.g. your health conditions.
If and when the Homefinder Somerset Partnership uses your personal information to profile you, in order to deliver the most appropriate services to you, you will be informed.
If you have any concerns regarding automated decision making, or profiling, please contact the Local Authority dealing with your application.
Where in the world is your information?
Your personal information is stored on systems in the UK. If this changes, we will update the privacy notice.
How long do we keep your personal information?
Generally, when an active Homefinder Somerset application reaches six years any personal information in relation to that application will be deleted. Where a property has been allocated or an application has been cancelled or closed, the personal information will be deleted after two years.
However, personal information will not be deleted if there is a legal reason for it to be kept.
Where can I get advice?
If you have any worries or questions about how your personal information is handled please contact the Data Protection Officer of the Local Authority dealing with your application.
For independent advice about data protection, privacy and data sharing issues, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to use a national rate number.
Common housing register - A common housing register is a joint register for housing from the council and from social landlords housing associations and housing cooperatives. Putting your name down on a common housing register not only increases your chances of getting accommodation, but can save you a lot of time and trouble, as it means you won't have to make separate applications to the council and to all the individual housing associations and co-ops in your area.
Data Controller – An organisation which determines the purpose and kind of processing it undertakes on its own behalf, including how data is collected, processed and stored.
Genetic/biometric data – “genetic data” (e.g. an individual’s gene sequence) and “biometric data” (i.e. fingerprints, facial recognition, retinal scans etc.).
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – The ICO is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights. Find out more about the organisation by visiting ico.org.uk.