Council drops ball over data protection blunder

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A Meden Vale man has been left shocked after receiving a letter from Mansfield District Council with details of people’s housing benefits payments.

The letter from the council’s revenues and benefits department includes the names and addresses of seven housing benefit recipients, including himself and the total benefit payments they have had during the last month.

Ged Laydon, 47, of Kirton Close, Meden Vale, said: “It’s bizarre that they have sent me this and I imagine other people on the list would be surprised to learn they are their details are included.

“I think this is a shocking breach of data protection laws. Whether it is accidental or not it is a criminal offence.

“Whether someone else has received one with my details on I do not know.”

A spokesman for Mansfield District Council said: “We are investigating the potential unauthorised disclosure of information concerning the housing benefit entitlement of tenants of Asra Housing Group for the period May 23 to June 19.

“This is being treated with the utmost seriousness but as the investigation is at an early stage we are unable to release more information at this time.

“More will be known about this next week when we have been able to establish the facts. However the council would like to reassure residents that no further information, such as bank details or national insurance numbers have been disclosed.”

Law regarding the processing of data on identifiable living people is defined by the Data Protection Act 1998.

Anyone holding personal data is legally obliged to comply with this Act, which requires companies and individuals to keep personal information to themselves.

Individuals can be identified by various means including their name and address, telephone number or email address.