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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Specialist areas - multi-agency: multi-agency - information disclosure to outside bodies

Checklist

Before you follow this guidance, make sure

  • you have the correct user roles to follow this guidance.
  • you are in the correct MU. Use TCM0322460 for the correct MU number.

Required information

Obtain the following information from the Local Authority, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Department of Social Development (DSD) or other department within HM Revenue & Customer (HMRC) (all known as outside bodies)

  • legal gateway under the Tax Credits Act 2002 (Schedule 5) or the appropriate Act or Regulation is quoted
  • the name of the outside body
  • why they want the information they have asked for.

Background

The Multi Agency Team processes requests from outside bodies for information to verify eligibility for benefits.

All requests must quote the appropriate relevant gateway to allow HMRC to lawfully release tax credits information for these purposes - for example, Tax Credit Act 2002 (schedule 5).

Although a request may quote the appropriate gateway, you must also ensure the request is being made by a body that is covered by that specific part of the legislation.

Requests from outside body fraud investigation teams may result in prosecutions where HMRC may be required to attend court and provide evidence.

The Multi Agency Team

  • may only disclose information that is proportionate to the purpose of the request. The request must state why the information is needed, how it will be used and include a relevant period of enquiry
  • will not normally divulge details of children, partners or bank accounts

Note: When replying to the requestor, you must only divulge the information regarding the person they are enquiring about. Therefore, if they ask for details of one customer on a joint claim, you must only provide details for that person and the details for the other customer must not be provided.

  • will not normally provide a full copy of a claim form, usually only the first and last page, the last page being the signature page. They can take advice from the Data Security Team if the investigation team feels more pages from the claim form would be relevant to their investigation.

The information the Multi Agency Team can provide includes

  • award amounts
  • start and end dates of entitlement
  • payments
  • hours worked
  • elements of award
  • date of notification
  • earnings
  • self-employed details
  • relevant period of investigation.

If an employer’s details are requested, the Multi Agency Team must be provided with an explanation as to why this is relevant to the requester’s investigation. It is equally important there is an explanation as to how the employer details will be used - for example, the requestor may state they will contact the employer to establish earnings details in order to re-assess a claim for Housing Benefit. Further examples are available in the Multi Agency folder.

Note: If unreasonable requests are made, the Multi Agency Team will contact the requestor and explain why they can not provide the information, and what the requester needs to do to make the disclosure possible.

Other requests for further information can be found in the ‘Disclosure Queries’ document in the Multi Agency folder. The Data Security Team must be contacted on a case-by-case basis for requests that do not fall within these limits.

Guidance

Note: When sending customer, staff or process data to another individual or team, make sure you follow the latest data security guidelines or contact the Data Guardian or Data Security Team for advice.

Step 1

Check Household Notes to determine if Compliance is carrying out an investigation on the claim the outside body has requested information on. For how to do this, use TCM1000067

Note: If it states in Household Notes that Compliance is carrying out an investigation that may impact on the information you provide to the outside body, you must inform Compliance of this.

If there is a message stating that Compliance is carrying out an investigation on the claim, go to .

If there is not a message stating that Compliance is carrying out an investigation on the claim, go to .

Step 2

Phone the Compliance Officer to tell them you have received a request for information from an outside body

  • go to .

Step 3

If the request for information is made by phone

  • tell the outside body they need to submit their enquiry in writing by secure e-mail to the Multi-Agency in box
  • take no further action.

If the request for information is made in writing or by fax, go to .

Step 4

Note: This guidance must be followed in conjunction with the Information Disclosure Guide.

Note: If you are unsure whether you can provide the information requested refer to the ‘Disclosure Queries’ notes in the Multi Agency folder and contact the Central Policy Team.

Check the request to determine whether

  • the information can be divulged under the relevant legal Gateways
  • the request was submitted by secure e-mail (gcsx, gsx, gsi, for example)

Note: Requests from other HMRC departments such as NICO need to quote Section 17 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.

Note: If other legislation is quoted, please refer to the Data Security Team for advice.

  • a legitimate reason for disclosure has been included in the request

Note: A legitimate reason for disclosure includes details of any investigation or alleged offence, why it is relevant to the investigation or assessment as well as the intended use to which the information will be put. It should also include the relevant period of investigation/assessment and state the specific details required.

  • the request has been signed by the investigating officer.

If the information had been requested, can be divulged using the relevant legal Gateway and a legitimate reason for disclosure has been included in the request, go to .

If the information has been requested, can be divulged using the relevant legal Gateway but a legitimate reason for disclosure has not been included in the request, go to .

If the information has not been requested using the relevant legal Gateway and the request is from another department within HMRC, go to .

If the information has not been requested using the relevant legal Gateway and the request is not from another department within HMRC, go to .

Step 5

If the request is made by DWP, go to .

If the request is made by DSD, go to .

If the request is made by the NHS, go to .

If the request is made by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and it is regarding an absent parent, go to .

If the request is made by the CSA and it is not regarding an absent parent, go to .

If the request is made by the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC), go to .

If the request is made by the Veterans Agency, go to .

If the request is made by the Land & Property Services, go to .

If the request is made by a Local Authority and is in relation to free school meals, Early Years Pupil Premium, free childcare or education for 2 year olds, or clothing grant, go to .

If the request is made by a Local Authority and is not in relation to free school meals, Early Years Pupil Premium, free childcare or education for 2 year olds, or clothing grant, go to .

If the request is made for a witness statement, go to .

If the request is made for someone to attend court, follow the guidance in the Information Disclosure Guide. This provides detailed guidance for dealing with court procedures.

If a complaint is received following the disclosure of requested information, go to .

If the request is made by the Gateway Exchange Team, go to .

If the request is made by the Police or Border Agency and the email has been sent to the Multi Agency Team by Compliance, go to .

Step 6

Check that the customer’s authority is provided by the NHS or the Primary Care Trust by looking through the form provided by the NHS or the Primary Care Trust.

If the customer’s authority is provided by the NHS or the Primary Care Trust, go to .

If the customer’s authority is not provided by the NHS or the Primary Care Trust, go to .

Step 7

Check the customer’s eligibility for exemption certificates. Follow the guidance in TCM0202000

  • complete the relevant tick box on the form provided by the NHS or Primary Care Trust
  • stamp the form with the TCO stamp and return to the relevant NHS or Primary Care Trust using the method of postage outlined in the Data Transfer Request
  • update Household Notes with the message XM01 from TCM0176020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to .

Step 8

Return the form to the NHS or the Primary Care Trust with a covering letter asking them to re-submit the request with the customer’s authority attached

Note: The covering letter can be found in the Multi Agency folder.

  • take no further action.

Step 9

Issue a letter to the Local Authority and ask them to obtain the information from the DFE Hub.

If the Local Authority can obtain the information from the DFE Hub

  • update Household Notes with the message XM04 from TCM0176020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to .

If the Local Authority cannot obtain the information from the DFE Hub

  • ask them to phone the Local Authority Priority Helpline (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) for the information they need
  • update Household notes with the message XM04 from TCM0176020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to .

Step 10

Obtain the information requested for disclosure from the tax credits computer. For how to do this, use TCM1000375

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

If you are able to obtain all the requested information from the tax credits computer, go to .

If you are not able to obtain all the requested information from the tax credits computer and will need to obtain the information from the claim form instead, go to .

Step 11

Send the requested information to the secure e-mail address provided using the standard paragraphs from the relevant letter held in the Multi Agency folder, where appropriate

  • check for any tax credit compliance referral and issue to embedding team
  • update Household Notes with the message XM01 from TCM0176020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to .

Step 12

Retrieve the claim form and any casepapers from storage. Follow the guidance in TCM0074060

  • set a clerical BF for 14 days in the future

then, when the claim form and any case papers are retrieved from storage

  • go back to .

Step 13

Inform the outside body you are unable to provide the information requested to them as we do not have legal gateway to do so

  • send the standard refusal letter to the outside body which can be found in the Multi Agency folder
  • update Household Notes with the message XM01 from TCM0176020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to .

Step 14

Inform the outside body that you are unable to provide the information because they have not given us a legitimate reason for the request

  • send the standard draft letter to the outside body with the form that can be found in the Multi Agency folder
  • update Household Notes with the message XM01 from TCM0176020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to .

Step 15

Refer all requests for witness statements made after 3 March 2014 (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

  • take no further action.

Step 16

Phone the requester and advise them they need to go to their single point of contact in the CSA to request the information

then

  • go to .

Step 17

Re-direct the request using form TC648 to Debt Management and Banking (DMB) (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

  • go to .

Step 18

Re-direct the complaint using form TC648 to the appropriate team within TCO and include contact details for the Multi Agency Team

  • update Household Notes with the message XM02 from TCM0176020. For how to do this, use TCM1000001
  • go to .

Step 19

Follow para IDG25000 - ‘Sharing information within the department’ in the Information Disclosure Guide

then, return to this guidance

  • go to .

Step 20

Phone the Gateway Exchange Team to let them know you are going to forward the email from Compliance onto them

then

  • go to .

Step 21

Phone the requester and advise them they need to contact their co-ordinators within the CMEC to request the information

then

  • go to .

Step 22

Note: For information about record keeping when making disclosures, refer to para 42050 in the Information Disclosure Guide.

If you have not been dealing with a witness statement

  • store the request on the team for six months

Note: If a further request is received within six months, go back to .

  • send the correspondence to storage. Follow the guidance in TCM0074140.