Paying the data protection fee
Do community-led housing organisations need to register with the Information Commissioner's Office?
In recent months, many community-led housing organisations have received communications from the Information Commissioner's Office ("ICO") warning them that they could face fines as they had not paid the ICO's data protection fee.
Most organisations using people's personal information will be required to register and pay the fee, although there are some exemptions to the general rule. For example, there is an exemption from the requirement to pay a fee for 'not for profit' organisations (i.e. those who are not established or conducted for profit) who only handle information about their members and supporters, subject to certain conditions.
Many community-led housing organisations will fall within this not for profit exemption and so will not be required to register with the ICO. The majority of community land trusts, cohousing groups and housing co-operatives will hold information about their members, but will only use that information for the purposes of contacting them to arrange meetings and keeping them updated about the organisation's work. This should fall within the exemption.
However, community-led housing groups should check for themselves by completing the ICO's self-assessment tool for organisations, to determine whether the organisation needs to register and pay the data protection fee. This can be found on the ICO's website here.
Where the fee is payable, this ranges from £40 to £2,900. The actual fee is calculated using factors such as annual turnover and the organisation's number of employees.
In addition, regardless of whether they are required to pay the data protection fee, organisations should check that they have appropriate privacy notices and other documentation in place to ensure compliance with data protection law.
Further detail on the exemptions available and the conditions applying to them can be found in the ICO's guide to the data protection fee for data controllers.
For specific advice about how data protection requirements affect your community-led housing group, please contact Nick Dunn or Peter Parker.
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors.