Power to Require Information

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    Can anyone assist me here? I have an appeal from a customer against the recovery of an overpayment which the customer claims is “official error”. The overpayment arose due to undeclared income which customer started to receive 6 months after claim started.

    The customer states that as soon as they received notification that they were to receive this income, they contacted the LA to advise. As evidence, the customer has produced an internet itemised telephone bill which shows 2 calls being made to our benefits section on the very morning the notification of the award of income was received.

    However, when checked against the LA’s records of calls received that day, there were no calls received at the times stated and none at all that day from the customer’s telephone number.

    I wanted our Fraud section to then check with the phone company to see if the info the customer gave us was genuine. I thought they may have the power to do this under S109B (1)(b) and S. 110A (2)(b)of SSAA 1192..”ascertaining whether provisions of the relevant social security legislation that relate to HB or CTB are being, have been or are likely to be contravened”.

    Our Fraud section do not think they have power to contact the phone company …Can anyone advise, and if they are allowed to contact the phone company, can you tell me what legislation allows this?


    Kevin D

    I don’t know about “powers” for the LA, but if you’re considering a criminal prosecution, you could involve the Police who most certainly do have such powers.

    In anticipation of “Data Protection Act” being relied on the telecon company, try quoting [b:a9285d38e3]s.35(2) of the DPA[/b:a9285d38e3] which states:

    [b:a9285d38e3]Disclosures required by law or made in connection with legal proceedings etc. [/b:a9285d38e3]

    35. – (1) Personal data are exempt from the non-disclosure provisions where the disclosure is required by or under any enactment, by any rule of law or by the order of a court.

    (2) Personal data are exempt from the non-disclosure provisions where the disclosure is necessary-

    (a) for the purpose of, or in connection with, any legal proceedings (including prospective legal proceedings), or
    (b) for the purpose of obtaining legal advice,
    or is otherwise necessary for the purposes of establishing, exercising or defending legal rights.

    In addition, check the declaration on the claim form – does it contain the term about allowing such enquiries to be made etc?



    Your fraud section are probably correct! The obtaining of information from telephone companies using S110 powers is complicated and involves reference to the Regulation Of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. RIPA deals generally with surveillance and “phone-tapping”.

    The upshot is LA investigators can require providers to provide information that is not “traffic data”. I.e we can ask for the subscriber details, how much the bills were, how they were paid etc., but we cannot have itemised bills.

    That said if your claimant is appealing I am sure she would be willing to provide written authority for you to approach the phone company and get the information you require.

    I can see no reason why she would decline that request.


    Thanks to both of you for getting back to me on this. I will contact the phone company myself quoting the section of the DPA that Kevin refers to.

    No Kevin – our declaration does not allow us to ask for this info. Could we add to it to include such things as phone companies???

    Geoff – I could not possibly go back to this appellant to ask them to sign a mandate – all hell would break loose…and just suppose our LA incoming calls reports are wrong!!! It doesn’t bear thinking about – I would rather be sneaky about it.

    Thanks again


    Are you sure your records of calls received are 100% accurate?

    Kevin D


    You could add such a term to the declaration along the lines of “I am aware that the LA may make such enquiries as are reasonable in order to verify information and evidence that is relevant to your claim”.

    So long as you don’t breach the DPA or exceed the powers of HBR 86, no problem. Of course, a clmt could cross out this term…… 🙂


    No need to be “sneaky”. I think you could quite legitimately be open with the clmt in saying something like “Thank you for the info. However, our records do not concur with your evidence and, therefore, we are making further enquiries to establish/confirm which is correct”. Perfectly reasonable.

    In any case, even if the clmt DID notify you, any o/p may still be recoverable.



    Thanks again for your reply Kevin. I know the o/p is still recoverable – but the bigger picture is that they say when they called the benefits section they were told that they did not need to declare it as it was disregarded !!! (wish I could be 100% confident this is rubbish)- therefore when all future decision notices were issued – they thought it was ok that this income was not included. This of course is also the reason that they did not declare it on future apps!!!

    Martin – Given the amount of errors I have identified whilst preparing the Appeal Sub…..NO I can’t be sure our records are correct. That is why I don’t want to step out of line here and appear to be accusing the customers of lying….They have already complained to the Ombudsman.


    Chris Cook

    You could ask the claimant to sign an authority to get her telephone company to disclose her itemised telephone information.

    If she is co-operative they would normally provide this information (there may be a charge levied by the company).


    Chris beat me to it,

    alternatively ask the claimant for confirmation addressed to the L.A. from the company that the info is accurate.

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