Data matching and data sharing

Cabinet Office

This authority 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. 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 at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/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. A copy of the Code may be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-data-matching-practice-for-national-fraud-initiative

For further information on the Cabinet Office's legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fair-processing-national-fraud-initiative/fair-processing-level-3-full-text

Data sharing with credit reference agencies

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support are social security benefits that are administered by Local Authorities. The law allows the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to share information about its customers with Local Authorities for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support purposes so that they can calculate the correct amount to pay. Local Authority staff with responsibility for administering Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support has electronic access to the DWP information they need for this purpose.

The law also allows DWP to data match Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support with information held by Credit Reference Agencies. Data matching is where information held on one computer system is compared electronically with information from one or more other computer systems. DWP may compare the information from the Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support system with that on systems used by the Credit Reference Agencies to identify possible fraud or error.

DWP currently has a contract with the Credit Reference Agency Experian to carry out data matching for each Local Authority to identify undeclared Living Together benefit fraud. The contract stipulates that no electronic ‘footprint’ will be left on individual customer’s credit accounts. This means that the data matching will not affect people’s credit ratings. The contract also specifies that Experian must not use the DWP data for any other purposes.

Internal market information system

If you make any application online which is processed and regulated by the Council it may fall within the scope of the EU Services Directive. If that is the case we may use your details provided in the application to help us process the application using the IMI System (Internal Market Information System).

The IMI is a web based portal developed by the EU Commission. It allows authorities to share information in a secure way and complies with data protection legislation. IMI will only be used to exchange information regarding service providers who are within the scope of the directive. Information provided will be deleted from the system 6 months after the closure of the request.

When a request is sent or received authorities will need to show a good reason for asking or sharing requests. Only authorities genuinely involved in the request for information will be able to see the information supplied. If we were to supply sensitive data using the IMI such as criminal sanctions we will notify you that this has happened.

For further information on data matching or data sharing at this authority please email the Council’s Corporate Information Manager: CIM@harlow.gov.uk

Or write to:

Corporate Information Manager
Harlow Council
Civic Centre
The Water Gardens
Harlow, Essex
CM20 1WG