Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance: Obtaining information held by HMRC

If you or your client ask for information about your client, then the request will be handled under the Data Protection Act 1998. Requests to see records and other related information are known as ‘subject access requests’.

Personal information can be contained in paper, computer records and telephone recordings.

How to make a request for personal information

You can do a Subject Access Request via an online form on the GOV.UK website.

Or write to:

KAI Knowledge Resources
Data Protection SAR Unit
Room BP 7052
Benton Park View
Long Benton
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

Include:

How long does it take?

You should get a response within 40 days. If HMRC need more information, such as dates and times of telephone calls, they have to ask you for the information they need. They can then wait until they have all the necessary information before dealing with your request. See below if there is a delay.

What does it cost?

HMRC have said that they will not charge for SAR requests.

How will you receive the information?

When you make a request you can ask that the information is given to you in a particular way. For example, you can ask for paper or electronic copies of original documents or you can ask for a summary of them. You can also ask to inspect specific documents.

However, the child benefit office may take into account the cost of supplying the information in this form before complying with your request.

What if you are not satisfied with their response?

If your request for information is:

You should first ask the child benefit office to review their decision, or in the case of non-response send them a reminder letter.

If you do not get a reply fairly quickly, or you think the information you receive is wrong or incomplete, you can complain to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). This is an independent body that promotes access to official information and protects personal information. If information has been wrongly withheld, the ICO can order it to be released.

You can use the ICO online form to tell them of your concerns.

Proof of child benefit entitlement

HMRC have issued a letter to Local Authorities advising that they will no longer provide claimants with written evidence of their child benefit entitlement.

According to HMRC, they receive around 6000 calls each week from claimants asking for written confirmation of their child benefit entitlement. HMRC research shows that the main reason for this is the need for claimants to provide evidence to support claims for benefits or grants administered by local Government.

As a result of these findings, HMRC have written to local authorities stating that they consider this a significant burden on their resources which threatens their ability to provide the right level of support to claimants who need their help.

In addition, HMRC state that DWP have advised them that evidence of child benefit should only be sought from the claimant where there is doubt. DWP encourage sight of bank statements or tax credit award notices where evidence is needed.

In addition to letters to Local Authorities, from 5th August 2011, anyone contacting the child benefit helpline will hear a recorded message advising them of this change in procedure. The message states -

Please note, if you’ve been asked to provide proof you’re entitled to Child Benefit, for example to claim Housing Benefit, we no longer provide this and we will not send confirmation to you by post. You don’t actually need to provide proof as you can provide other information instead, such as a tax credit award notice or recent bank statement showing Child Benefit going into your account. <pause> Now, if you’re calling to get your Child Benefit number, you’ll find this on any letters we’ve sent you. If you can’t find any paperwork and still need your Child Benefit number for any other reason, you can also send your query to us online. Just go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit and select the link under ‘Do it Online’. <pause> To hear that information again, press the star key or if you’ve no further questions you can just hang up.
 

Updated 16 May 2016