Consent for representatives
You can ask another person or an organisation to deal with your claim if you feel unable to:
- find the information you need
- understand things about your claim
You can do this at any time during your claim.
You must give your permission to allow another person or organisation to:
- act for you
- have access to relevant information about you
This permission is called explicit consent.
We call someone who deals with information on your behalf a ‘representative’.
A representative can be any person or organisation acting on your behalf or making enquiries for you. You must provide explicit consent before information can be disclosed to a representative.
You can give your explicit consent in writing using your online journal, on the telephone or face-to-face. You can do this at any time during your Universal Credit claim.
- give consent for your personal information to be shared with the representative
- explain what information you want to be shared
- explain why the information is needed
- explain the representative’s relationship to you if the representative is your family member or friend
- give the name of the representative and the organisation, including the branch where applicable. If you cannot provide the name of the representative, you need to be as specific as possible, for example you should provide their job role or team name within the organisation
Explicit consent does not last forever. It usually lasts until either the specific request is completed, or until the end of the assessment period after the one when you gave your consent.
An assessment period is the monthly period in which your Universal Credit is calculated and paid.
You can withdraw the consent for a representative at any time, by telling us:
- on your online journal, or
- in person, at an appointment in the Jobs and Benefit Office
- by telephone
Once you have given explicit consent, your representative will need to confirm the following details to receive relevant information about you and your Universal Credit claim:
- your full name
- your address or date of birth
- what information you have agreed to share
- the reason why the information is being shared
- their name or the organisation they belong to (where this applies)
If there is any doubt about the identity of the representative making the request, we will not give them the information.
Information that will never be given to representatives
The following information will never be given to a representative, even if you have given explicit consent:
- your address
- your date of birth
- your National Insurance number
- your bank details (sort code, account number, account holder name)
- your telephone numbers
- names of your household members
- names of your employers or former employers
When we can share your information without your consent
There are circumstances when DfC can share your information without explicit consent. These are:
- social landlords
- court orders
- legal gateways
- MP/MLAs acting on your behalf
- public interest
Certain information can be shared with social landlords to help us pay your rent to your landlord (managed payment) without the need for explicit consent.
Social landlords may only receive the following information without your consent:
- the start date of managed payment and/or third party deduction (Department for Communities website)
- when they can expect to receive the first managed payment and/or the third party deduction from the Department for Communities
- the amount of the next Universal Credit housing payment towards rent
- if there have been any changes to the amount of housing costs to be paid (the reason for the changes will not be provided or discussed).
A private landlord can act as your representative but will always need your explicit consent to do so.
If a court order is in place, we do not need to get your consent to give the information requested.
There are no legal gateways in Northern Ireland.
MP/MLAs requesting information on your behalf
Any correspondence, (letter, email or phone enquiries) received from your MP, MLA or representative on your behalf relating to your Universal Credit claim will be answered directly to the MP/MLA or your representative without the need for your consent. However, it is common practice for MPs to include explicit consent from you when contacting the department in writing.
Where it is in the best interests of the public, we can give some information without your consent, for example, where claimants have complex needs. These requests for information will usually come from the police or social services.
Sharing your information with others
Another person or organisation can apply for the right to deal with your Universal Credit claim if you can’t manage your own affairs because, for example, you may be mentally incapable or severely disabled.
An appointee can be:
- an individual, such as a friend or relative – these are known as individual appointees
- an organisation or representative of an organisation, such as a solicitor, Health & Social Care Trust or nursing home – these are known as corporate appointees. The appropriate staff member from that organisation can act on your behalf.
An appointee appointed by the Department is also known as a Personal Acting Body (PAB).
A PAB is a person who acts on behalf of a claimant who can't manage their own benefit affairs. Their appointment must be approved by the Department.
As well as an appointee a PAB can also be:
- a Controller (appointed by the Office of Care and Protection) to administer a claimant’s affairs.
- a person with Enduring Power of Attorney.
Further information becoming appointee for social security benefits
Power of attorney
If you are or become incapable of managing your property and financial affairs, you will need someone to do this for you. You can formally appoint a friend, relative or professional to hold a Power of Attorney that will allow them to act on your behalf.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document giving someone else the authority to take actions or make decisions on your behalf. It enables you to choose a person/ or people (called an attorney) to deal with your property and affairs. A Power of Attorney ceases when you become mentally incapable of managing your affairs, but an Enduring Power of Attorney will continue.
Health and welfare enduring power of attorney
You can use a health and welfare Enduring Power of Attorney to give an attorney the power to make decisions about things like:
- your daily routine, for example washing, dressing, eating
- medical care
- moving into a care home
- life-sustaining treatment
It can only be used when you’re unable to make your own decisions.
Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney
You can use a property and financial affairs EPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about money and property for you, for example:
- managing a bank or building society account
- paying bills
- collecting benefits or a pension
- selling your home
It can be used as soon as it’s registered, with your permission.