The Valuation Tribunal Service (VTS) is a data controller under the data protection legislation. It is a public, non-departmental body that comes under the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and receives its funding from Parliament.

This notice tells you about your rights and what to expect when the VTS collects personal information. It applies to information we collect about:

  • visitors to our websites
  • people who use our services to make an appeal
  • people who request a publication from us or subscribe to our email alert services
  • people who telephone us
  • people who complain about our service
  • complainants and other individuals in relation to data protection or freedom of information enquiries
  • job applicants

Under the data protection legislation, we can only handle personal data if we do so for one of six reasons. The reason we handle personal data, as set out below, is either that it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or because we have official authority to do this (Article 6(e) of the General Data Protection Regulation) or because we have a legal obligation to do so (Article 6(c)).


Contact details

Valuation Tribunal Service
2nd Floor 120 Leman Street
London E1 8EU
Phone: 020 7426 3906

Data Protection Officer: Diane Russell
Email: dpo@vts.gsi.gov.uk

Visitors to our website

When someone visits the website we collect standard internet log information and details of visitor behaviour patterns. We do this to find out things such as the number of visitors to the various parts of the site. We collect this information in a way which does not identify anyone. We do not make any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting our website. We do not associate any data gathered from this site with any personally identifying information from any source.

If we collect any personally identifiable information through our website, it will only be used for a service you have requested, eg for an email alert or to make an appeal.

Use of cookies by the VTS

Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer by websites that you visit. They are widely used in order to make websites work, or work more efficiently, as well as to provide information to the owners of the site. Cookies cannot be used to identify you personally.

Google Analytics software is used to collect information about how you use our website. We do this to make sure the site is meeting the needs of users and how we could make improvements. We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data.

The table below explains the cookies we use and why.

Cookie Name Purpose More information
Google Analytics _utma _utmb _utmc _utmz These cookies collect anonymous information on: the number of new and returning visitors to the site, where visitors have come to the site from, how long they spend on the website and the pages they visit. They expire after different periods: _utma 2 years; _utmb 30 mins; _utmc when you close your browser; _utmz 6 months. Click here for an overview of privacy at Google.

To opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics accross all websites visit http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout

Site customisation Style This applies to the text resize facility. It allows the text size you’ve selected to be remembered from page to page. It expires when you exit the browser.
Browsealoud __ba_allow_secure
__ba_cookies_enabled
__ba_launch_audio_alert
__ba_plus

__ba_settings
__ba_trans_ok
_baga
_ga
_gat_batracker
rwebooks-x
rwebooks-y
allow secure speech requests to be made
allow Browsealoud cookies
has the audio alert happened
launch toolbar automatically if previously
opened
stored user settings
translation disclaimer accepted
Google analytics
Google analytics
Google analytics
for toolbar position
for toolbar position

Most web browsers allow some control of most cookies through the browser settings. To find out more about cookies, visit www.allaboutcookies.org or the Information Commissioner’s website, www.ico.org.uk.

People who use our services

We have to collect the details of the people who have requested the service in order to provide it. However, we will only collect the minimum information we need and use these details to provide the service the person has requested and for other closely related purposes.

Making an appeal

We collect and process this data as the law[1] says we must to perform our official duty, which is administering appeals for the Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE). We will keep personal information secure and for as long as we should in line with the legislation that relates to us and our own retention policy.

This means:

  • We collect from you what the law says we need to have in order for you to make an appeal. In some circumstances, if it is part of your case/evidence that you send to us, you may include ‘special category’ data, for example about your health or living arrangements.
  • For appeals against rating lists before 2017, under the law, the data we hold about your appeal came to us first from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). You would have provided that data in the proposal that you submitted to the VOA.
  • By law, we have to let the organisation whose decision you are appealing against (the council or the VOA) know about your appeal and share with them the information we receive from you.
  • Tribunal proceedings (hearings) are generally required to be held in public. This is an aspect of the constitutional right to open justice. Exceptional reasons would need to be shown for a hearing to be held in private. (There is more about this in the Practice Statement Private or closed hearings).
  • Tribunal decisions are public documents; this is necessary in the administration of justice, to demonstrate open justice and to enable citizens to understand their rights and obligations. We have to hold VTE decisions for six years and make them available for inspection to anyone who wishes to see them, by law. For most appeal types we do this by publishing the decisions on our website, after they have been issued to the parties. Where a decision includes ‘special category’ or other sensitive data we will not publish this, or we will make the decision anonymous so that no-one can be identified in it. You can object to having your decision published on the website and the Practice Statement, Publication of Decisions tells you more about this. The Decisions and lists area of our website, like other areas, is indexed by Google and so it is possible for decisions to be found by carrying out a Google search.

We make other, related uses of your data so that we can perform our official duties as best we can, in the public interest.

  • We may need to contact the council or the VOA to clarify some information with them, which helps us to deal with your case as quickly as we can.
  • We keep your case papers and those of the other party (council or VOA) for four months after the appeal has been decided, in case there is any challenge to the VTE’s decision.
  • For appeals against the 2017 rating list, the law says you must pay a fee. Currently, so that you can do this, we collect a cheque from you. We take no banking details from the cheque. If you are entitled to a refund, we ask you to tell us in writing where to pay the refunded amount. We only retain that information until we are sure you have received the correct amount; it is then securely destroyed.
  • We publish on our website lists of appeals that will be heard in the near future. This list shows the appeal property address and valuation, but no personal names.

We occasionally use contact details of appellants in surveys to find out if they are happy with the level of service they received from us. Your contact details will not normally be used until after you have received your decision from the Tribunal. We send the minimum amount of information securely to an independent research company that reports its findings to us, without identifying anyone. The research company handles and disposes of the personal information securely, as their professional code of conduct and our contract with them requires. If you are contacted to take part in the survey, you may of course refuse.

[1] Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009 as amended; Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 as amended; Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009 as amended.

Requesting a publication or subscribing to an email alert

We will only use your contact details to provide the documents or email alert you request, unless you also have an appeal with us.

People who phone us

When you call the VTS, we collect statistical data on call volumes and, for example, the duration of calls, to help improve efficiency and effectiveness. The telephone system does not record conversations or any personal information about the caller. If you have an appeal with us, we may note the key elements of a phone conversation in our appeals management system, to help us manage your appeal and hearing.

People who make a complaint to us

When we receive a complaint from someone, we will only use the personal information we collect to investigate and respond to the complaint and to check on the level of service we provide. We do compile and publish statistics showing the number and type of complaints we receive, but not in a form which identifies anyone.

We usually have to disclose the complainant’s identity to whoever the complaint is about. If a complainant doesn’t want information identifying him or her to be disclosed, we will try to respect that. However, it may not be possible to handle a complaint on an anonymous basis.

We will keep personal information in line with our retention policy. This means that information relating to a complaint will be retained for two years from closure. It will be held securely in locked cabinets or electronic files with limited access.

Job applicants

When individuals apply to work at the VTS, we will only use the information they supply to us to process their application and to monitor recruitment statistics. Where we want to disclose information to a third party, for example if we want to take up a reference or obtain a ‘disclosure’ from the Disclosure and Barring Service we will not do so without informing them beforehand unless the disclosure is required by law.

Personal information about unsuccessful candidates will be held for one year after the recruitment exercise has been completed, in line with our retention policy; it will then be securely destroyed or deleted. We may ask for your permission to use your CV in any other future recruitment exercises. We retain de-personalised statistical information about applicants to help inform our recruitment activities, but no individuals are identifiable from that data.

 Automated decision-making and profiling

The VTS does not use automated decision making or profiling.

 Links to other websites

This privacy notice does not cover the links from our website to other websites and you should read the privacy statements on the other websites you visit.

Complaints or queries about data protection

The VTS tries to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information. For this reason, we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention if they think that our collection or use of information is unfair, misleading or inappropriate. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures. Please contact the Data Protection Officer on dpo@vts.gsi.gov.uk or at the address on page 1.

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review on our website. This privacy notice was last updated on 19 June 2018.

Your rights in relation to your personal information

You have the right to expect that your personal data is kept secure. We are committed to doing all we can to keep your data secure. To prevent unauthorised access or disclosure we have put in place technical and organisational procedures, so that for example, only the staff who need access to your data have it. We also make sure that any third parties we deal with have a contractual obligation to keep secure all personal data they process on our behalf.

The VTS aims to be as open as it can be in terms of giving people access to their personal information. Individuals can find out if we hold any personal information about them by making a ‘subject access request’ under the General Data Protection Regulation. Normally we must provide the data within one month and free of charge. To make a request to the VTS for any personal information we may hold about you, it is very helpful if you put the request in writing, emailing it to foi@vts.gsi.gov.uk or writing to the contact details provided at the beginning of this notice.

If we do hold information about you we will give you a copy of it. You have certain other rights as a data subject, as described below.

  • We want to ensure that the data we hold is accurate, complete and up to date. You can ask us to correct any mistakes. You can ask us to stop processing your data until it has been corrected.
  • If we are holding your personal data longer than we need to, you can ask us to erase it.
  • You have the right to object to the VTS processing your data, if you have specific personal grounds for this.
  • If you provide the VTS with your personal data as part of a contract and we process it by automated means, you can request that we transfer this to another data controller.
  • If you are unhappy with the way we handle your personal data or your subject access request, you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner:

ICO
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Tel: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 54 57 45

Website: www.ico.org.uk