Council Tax Single Person Discount Review FAQ's

Why is the SPD review being undertaken?

Annually, your council undertakes a review to ensure residents who claim a Single Person Discount on their Council Tax continue to have a genuine entitlement to it.

This year, your council is working with Northgate Public Services to undertake an evidence based Single Person Discount review, using a combination of Council data, third party data sources and specialist validation services. This will help to:

How can Northgate Public Services undertake this review on behalf of the Authority?

This is done in accordance with the Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) Order 1996 - SI1996/1880, Section 12 - Ascertaining entitlement to discounts.

Who are Northgate Public Services?

Northgate Public Services are a well-known, reputable company who specialise in the provision of revenues and benefits software, and carry out revenues and benefits processing work for many local authorities nationally. They employ highly experienced staff to manage this work and have already successfully conducted many Single Person Discount reviews.

How do Northgate Public Services and Experian check the validity of the Single Person Discount?

In order to do this, all accounts in receipt of the Single Person Discount are passed to Experian, a credit referencing agency, who perform a search against the property and not the individual. Experian then compare addresses against over 1 billion records covering 45 million UK residents drawn from over 750 data sources and provide Northgate Public Services with a list of adults who are associated with the property.

These searches are drawn from Consumer Credit Agreements, previous credit applications, the electoral register, address links (unique to Experian) where the customer gives a forwarding/previous address to a lender, Alias data (again unique to Experian) and Mortality data (taken from deaths register, insurance records etc).

What information do Experian provide to Northgate Public Services?

Experian's data matching exercise will provide Northgate Public Services with confirmation of whether or not the individual claiming Single Person Discount is living at the property, and also if there are any additional individuals potentially living at the property. If there is evidence that another individual could be living at the property, then Experian provides the following information:

Northgate Public Services are not provided with an indication of what type of records have associated the adult to the property e.g. mortgage, catalogue application, electoral register etc.

Does this not breach the Data Protection Act?

All personal data is processed securely and in compliance with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. It is used under Section 29 (1) (a) of the Act regarding the prevention and detection of crime and under Section 29(1) (c) regarding the assessment or collection of any tax or duty or of any imposition of a similar nature.

Northgate Public Services do not keep the data for longer than is necessary. When the review is complete all data, whether it is in a paper or electronic format, will be destroyed.

In the light of recent data security breaches how will Northgate Public Services ensure that personal sensitive information is protected?

Northgate Public Services takes information security and secure handling and transfer of data very seriously. Northgate operates under an information security management system which is certified to the international recognised standard ISO27001:2013 and in accordance with the code of practice for information security controls ISO27002:2013. All staff involved in the process are security vetted to the Government baseline standard and are fully trained in information security and data protection.

The address shown on the envelope for returning the form has a Twickenham address. Is this correct?

The Twickenham address is a postal imaging centre employed by Northgate Public Services to ensure that all correspondence is dealt with as efficiently and securely as possible. The centre is responsible for the posting out of all correspondence and dealing with replies. All forms once received, are scanned and returned to your council. Any images held are destroyed so no data is held longer than is necessary.

The canvass and reminder forms make reference to the Council enforcing a penalty. Is this allowed?

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 make provision whereby an authority may make a written request for information to determine who is liable for the Council Tax for each of the dwellings in their area. A person who appears to the authority to be a resident, owner or managing agent of a particular dwelling is required to supply specified information so long as:

  1. It is in their possession or control
  2. The authority makes a written request (by notice) for it
  3. It is required only for the purpose of identifying the liable person(s) for the dwelling for the period concerned.

The Local Government Finance Act 1992 grants billing authorities the power to impose a civil penalty where the resident, owner or managing agent is served with a notice detailed above, however fails to comply with its requirements.

Northgate Public Services

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