Client files and length of storage
Please could you confirm how long your organisation keeps welfare benefit client files in storage before you shred them.
Is there a legal minimum time limit or is it just down to the policy decision made by the organisation.
Here in Barnsley its six years. All linked to the CLS Quality Mark and time limits people have to take legal action for wrong / bad advice I understand.
We keep them for seven years.
However there are some that we mark keep for 16 years and that would be one’s like overpayments that are deemed not recoverable from DWP who then come back to the client in 10 years to say they’re going to take it out of their pension - we have had this happen to a client who i remembered and none of us could prove it had been deemed non recoverable as we’d shredded the paperwork and the client hadn’t kept it either.
I now tell clients to never get rid of the letter saying the overpayment has been deemed non recoverable and as i say keep it for 16 years.
It’s worth knowing that the time limits for legal proceedings do not run against minors (under 18) or persons hwo lack capacity - so you may need to keep those longer.
Thanks to all of you for your input.
We are looking at drafting a new data rentention policy and I know when I was at CAB we kept benefit files for 7 years, but I have not been able to find anything in writing to confirm these time limits.
If anyone has a policy document on data retention I would be really grateful if you could let me have a copy.