min read

DWP to snoop on benefit landlords' bank accounts

dwp landlords bank accounts benefits

Landlords’ bank accounts could be monitored as part of new legislation that aims to reduce overpayments to people claiming benefits and fraudulent claims.

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill currently going through Parliament gives the DWP powers to monitor all bank accounts that are “connected” to the bank accounts of anyone receiving benefit payments, irrespective of whether there is any suspicion of wrongdoing.

Those landlords who received benefits payments directly into their bank accounts would be liable for monitoring.

The draft bill aims to save £600 million over the next five years, but during a House of Lords debate, peers warned that its surveillance powers would deter landlords from offering accommodation to people on benefits.

Housing benefits

Labour’s Lord Sikka (pictured) said: “Why would a landlord want to receive money from housing benefits directly when it will mean that all of his bank accounts and linked accounts will be looked at? He will simply say no.”

A letter signed by 20 MPs and members of the Lords to the Secretary of State for Science Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, says the rules would require banks to go through tens of millions of bank accounts to identify people in the welfare system, about 40% of the population.

“Incorrectly flagged accounts could have disastrous consequences from intrusive investigations, to heightened stigma in the welfare system, to the wrongful suspension of benefits.”

Nottingham benefits landlord Mick Roberts tells LandlordZONE that although he wouldn’t have a problem with DWP looking at his account as he has nothing to hide, it could prove yet another deterrent to those landlords considering taking tenants on benefits.

He adds: “This monitoring wouldn’t be necessary if DWP simply spoke to landlords to find out their tenant’s situation – they just need to communicate.”

The DWP says its plan does not amount to surveillance and would not give investigators direct access to bank accounts.


department of work and pensions-dwp