Building Blocks: How Data Protection Can Elevate Social Housing

This is an abridged extract from our Director, Clare Paterson’s, book, “A Practical Guide to Data Protection in Social Housing”, published by Law Brief Publishing Ltd (see details at the end – Only 4 left at the discounted price):

“The term ‘data protection’ doesn’t do itself justice, because it can sound like its focus is on keeping data protected from external leaks. However, there is much more to data protection law. Organisations also need to comply with the other aspects of data protection, which include considering the purpose for collecting the data in the first place, as well as accuracy, not keeping data for too long, and upholding individuals’ rights, amongst other requirements.

The social housing sector exists to support people and communities, which means that social housing providers cannot operate without collecting, and using, a vast amount of information about the people they interact with; current, past, and potential tenants, customers, employees, and others.

There are undoubtedly many pros to having this data; being able to analyse tenant demographics, behaviour, and preferences can allow landlords to improve their services, and plan better for future needs and wants.

These benefits are often discussed in the housing sector, but the risks related to the collection and storage of personal data are not so widely acknowledged.

The benefits of data protection are not often examined either. The positive impacts of data protection compliance include increased trust and respect, better efficiency, improved tenant and employee relations, reduced costs, and reduced risks of causing people harm.

Data protection law is actually based on upholding human rights, and as such it holds so much potential for improving the lives of social housing tenants and employees, and society in general.

Myths about Data Protection

There are so many myths about data protection in general and about the GDPR and (UK)GDPR in particular. These range from needing consent to process any personal data, to the likelihood of being fined millions of pounds for any size of data breach, to organisations being prevented from helping vulnerable people due to the data protection laws. Unfortunately, these myths are often perpetuated by news articles and statements that are widely available.

To briefly address just those three myths, processing certainly does not always need consent, most organisations are not likely to be fined millions of pounds, and organisations including housing providers absolutely can help people in need without breaching data protection law. Each of these myths, and more, will be addressed throughout this book.

The Social Housing Sector’s Values and Data Protection

The social housing sector is largely based on values that are aligned with good data protection, even if it’s not always recognised, perhaps due to the misunderstandings and myths around data protection.

Values including fairness, transparency, accountability, security, and respect for human rights can all be seen in the documented values, visions and missions of many social housing providers. What is not always realised is that they also all feature heavily in the data protection legislation.

It is unfortunate, but understandable, that many social housing providers will see data protection as a tick box exercise, or even as a blocker to achieving their goals. When in reality, the values in social housing align so closely with those that the data protection legislation is built upon.”

To read more, you can order the book with a significant discount, for a limited time, from the CP Data Protection online shop (only 4 available).

At the second annual Hive Live Data Conference , on Wednesday 2nd October 2024, we are bringing together experts from the fields of data protection, data analysis and cyber security, for workshops and networking. Sign up to the Hive Live Mailing List to be in with a chance of a super early bird discounted ticket. (No obligation to buy, of course!)

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