National Fraud Initiative / Data Sharing with Credit Reference Agencies
Fair Processing Notices For Public Bodies (Level 2)
West Lothian Council is required by law to protect the public funds it administers. It may share information provided to it with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.
On behalf of the Auditor General of Scotland, Audit Scotland appoints the auditor to audit the accounts of this authority. It is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.
About data matching.
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 but the inclusion of personal data within a data matching exercise does not mean that any specific individual is under suspicion. 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. This exercise can also help bodies to ensure that their records are up to date.
Audit Scotland currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to Audit Scotland for matching for each exercise. These are set out in National Fraud Initiative - Instructions for participants (new window).
Data matching Code of Practice.
The use of data by Audit Scotland in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority, normally under its power in Part 2A of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Data matching by Audit Scotland is subject to a Code of Data Matching Practice (new window).
For further information on Audit Scotland's legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, see the level 3 privacy notice (new window).
Alternatively, a hard copy of the privacy notice can be made available on request, please contact West Lothian Councils key contact;
Mr S Reid
Senior Team Leader
St David House
South Bridge Street
Telephone: 01506 776862
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 Benefit purposes, so that we (the council) can work out the correct amount of benefit to pay. Council staff who administer Housing Benefit have electronic access to the DWP information they need to do this.
The law also allows the DWP to data match Housing Benefit 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 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.