Decisions using social media for housing benefit claims

Penny Anderson made this Freedom of Information request to Glasgow City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Glasgow City Council did not have the information requested.

Dear Glasgow City Council,

I would like to know, between April 2015 and November 2018, how many claimants have been denied, turned down or had claims for housing benefit discontinued and ended or suspended, after Finance used social media, including Google and other search engines, to decide they were no longer or were not entitled to housing benefit. This is to include freelance and self-employed claimants, but also those on gateway benefits, such as but not exclusively Universal Credit and Jobseekers Allowance,

Yours faithfully,
Penny Anderson

Customer Care Centre, Glasgow City Council

New Service Request was submitted: RQST00006799507
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Dickson, John (Revenues), Glasgow City Council

1 Attachment

Financial Services

Glasgow City Council

City Chambers,

Glasgow G2 1DU

Phone 0141 287 8186

Fax 0141 287 9568

Email:
[1][email address]

 

Our RQST
Ref 6799507

 

11 December 2018

 

Ms Penny Anderson

 

 

 

Email : [FOI #535797 email]

 

 

 

Dear Ms Anderson,

Request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

 

Thank you for your email received on 28 November 2018 requesting that the
following information be provided to you:

 

“I would like to know, between April 2015 and November 2018, how many
claimants have been denied, turned down or had claims for housing benefit
discontinued and ended or suspended, after Finance used social media,
including Google and other search engines, to decide they were no longer
or were not entitled to housing benefit. This is to include freelance and
self-employed claimants, but also those on gateway benefits, such as but
not exclusively Universal Credit and Jobseekers Allowance”

 

The Council is treating your request as a request under the Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

 

I am to advise you, although all applications for benefit are recorded
within the Council Tax system, there is no specific indicator which could
potentially identify the cancellation or suspension of a benefit claim as
described within your request. To comply with such a request would require
the Council Tax Benefit office to review and assess each individual claim
for Council Tax account over the 3 year period of your request. The
Council considers that this would cost more than the upper limit allowed
by section 12(1) of the Act and the fees regulations made under the Act
(this limit is currently £600) to conduct such an exercise.  The Council
has the option of complying with requests where the costs exceed £600. On
this occasion we have decided not to due to the resources (both financial
and human) which voluntary compliance with this request would divert away
from our core business.

 

By way of advice and assistance, I am also to advise you, the Council is
under a statutory obligation to manage all public funds correctly. In the
assessment of benefit, this would involve obtaining information from all
available sources. Nevertheless, regardless of how the information was
obtained, the claimant would always be afforded the opportunity to provide
corroboration and clarification of their position before any decision
relating to their entitlement to benefit was made.

 

I trust the above information is of assistance and clarifies the Council’s
position. However, if you are dissatisfied with the way Glasgow City
Council has dealt with your request you are entitled to require the
Council to review its decision. Please note that for a review to take
place you must:

 

·         Lodge a written requirement for a review within 40 working days
of the date of this letter

·         Include a correspondence address and a description of the
original request and the reason why you are dissatisfied

·         Address your request to the ;

 

Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council

Glasgow City Council

City Chambers

George Square

Glasgow G2 1DU

 

Email: [2][email address]

 

You will receive notice of the results of the review within 20 working
days of receipt of your request. The notice will state the decision
reached by the reviewing officer as well as details of how to appeal to
the Scottish Information Commissioner if you are still dissatisfied with
the Council’s response. You must request an internal review by the Council
before a complaint can be directed to the Scottish Information
Commissioner. For your information at this stage, an appeal can be made to
the Scottish Information Commissioner by contacting her office as follows
if you do remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the Council’s review
decision -

 

Address: Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DS.

Email: [3][email address]

Telephone: 01334 464610

You can also use the Scottish Information Commissioner’s online appeal
service to make an application for a decision:

[4]www.itspublicknowledge.info/appeal

 

Please note that you cannot make an appeal to the Scottish Information
Commissioner until you have first requested an internal review by the
Council.

.

If you wish to submit a complaint to the Council in relation to the manner
in which it has handled your request for information then you can do by
requesting that the Council review its decision. Details of how to request
a review are set out in the above paragraph “Right of Review”.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

John Dickson

Executive Compliance Officer

Financial Services

Glasgow City Council

 

Glasgow - UK Council of the Year 2015
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References

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4. http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/appeal
5. http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/privacy