Doormat ‘privacy breach’: Hackney Council under fire over housing benefit messages


Back of an envelope: the offending message

Hackney Council is breaching people’s privacy by “publicly identifying” residents in receipt of housing benefit, it has been claimed.

A resident who wishes to remain anonymous said she was upset at having been sent a letter from the council with this message printed on the outside: “You can see details of your housing benefit claim and your council tax balance by registering for our free on-line service.”

By using envelopes with this message printed on them the council could in theory inadvertently alert landlords to the fact a tenant is receiving housing benefit, thus potentially resulting in that person’s tenancy being terminated.

A council spokesperson said the council had used messages on the reverse of envelopes since 2006, adding: “Our Data Protection Officer has confirmed that the message is not in breach of Data Protection.”