How Much Compensation For A Social Services Data Breach?

By Danielle Newton. Last Updated 27th October 2023. In this article, we look at how to claim compensation following a social services data breach and what your legal rights are in the wake of such an incident.

As they hold and process personal data about people, local councils, social services and social workers must abide by the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

In this article, we look at the harm that social services data breaches can cause. Additionally, we explain when compensation could be sought for personal data breaches and how much might be awarded.

During your call, we’ll provide free legal advice and explain your options. Should your claim appear to be strong enough, we could pass it to a data breach solicitor from our panel. They’ll work on a No Win No Fee basis if your case is accepted.

To find out more about making a data breach claim against social services, please read on. Alternatively, why not call 0800 408 7825 to see if you can claim today for free?

Social Services data breach

Select A Section

  1. What Can I Do If Impacted By A Social Services Data Breach?
  2. What Is A Data Breach By Social Services?
  3. How Could Social Services Suffer A Data Breach?
  4. What Are The Two Forms Of Damages You Could Claim?
  5. Calculating Compensation Payouts After A Social Services Data Breach
  6. If Social Services Breach Data Protection Rules, Can I Make A No Win No Fee Claim?
  7. Make A Data Breach Claim
  8. Learn More About Data Breach Claims

What Can I Do If Impacted By A Social Services Data Breach?

Social services are there to protect vulnerable children and adults. Their role involves making sure clients are safe, healthy and well-protected. To carry out their role, a social worker must have access to personal information about their clients. Much of this data is protected by the UK GDPR.

If social services have a data breach, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s been a data breach. However, if an organisation is supposed to protect personal data, but its positive wrongful conduct causes a data breach, claims might be possible. For example, if a social worker left your case file on a public bus, this would be classed as positive wrongful conduct.

Additionally, if a social worker forwarded multiple confidential documents about you to the wrong person, that may also be classed as wrongful conduct.

However, you’d need to show any mental harm caused or any financial losses. We’ll explain this in more detail as we continue.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) governs data protection laws in the UK. Their powers allow them to investigate data protection breaches. Where laws are found to have been broken, they can fine the organisation responsible. Unfortunately, though, they do not issue compensation to individuals (data subjects) that have been affected by the incident. For that reason, we’ve written this guide on how you could take action.

If you have evidence of a valid claim against social services, why not call our advisors today?

How Long Do I Have To Claim For A Social Services Data Breach?

If your personal data was compromised in a social services data breach and you meet the eligibility criteria to make a claim, you must also ensure that your start legal proceedings within the correct time limit.

Data breach claims typically must be started within six years. However, if you are claiming against a public body, this time limit is reduced to one year.

If you have evidence that your personal data was included in a breach and would like to learn more about data breach compensation, please get in touch with one of the advisors from our team. They can assess the validity of your claim and may also put you in contact with one of the solicitors on our panel.

What Is A Data Breach By Social Services?

Before moving on to look at what types of data security incidents can occur, let’s look at what a personal data breach is. According to the ICO, personal data breaches are security incidents that cause:

  • Unlawful or accidental access, disclosure, loss, destruction or alteration of personal data.

Personal data is any information that can identify you directly or be used in combination with other information to identify you.

Social services also have access to sensitive personal data, such as those relating to medical conditions and your sex life and orientation.

To be eligible to claim compensation, you’ll need to show that:

  • Your personal data was involved in a data security incident; and
  • The positive wrongful conduct of the body that was meant to protect your personal data caused the breach to occur; and
  • As a direct result, you were harmed psychologically and/or lost money.

The breach could have been caused by an individual social worker or the organisation as a whole. Regardless of who within the organisation caused it, the claim would be made against the services.

How Could Social Services Suffer A Data Breach?

So, how can social services breach data laws? Well, while you may hear about breaches caused by criminals, human error is often the cause. An example might be where the wrong postal address is used when sending a letter containing personal information, even though the correct address is on file.

Let’s look at a real-life example of a social services data breach. In this case, the local authority was fined £60,000 by the ICO after a ‘serious breach’. The incident occurred because a social worker sent information about a child neglect case to the wrong person.

Rather than putting the incident down to human error, the ICO decided it was caused by organisation failings. As a result, the local council have amended their printing procedures when handling sensitive documents.


What Are The Two Forms Of Damages You Could Claim?

Data breach claims are generally formed of two elements. However, you could seek compensation for one or both heads.

  • Material damage might be claimable if you’ve lost money or incurred costs because of the breach. For example, if the data breach meant criminals used your details to extort money from you and you weren’t able to recover it from the bank, it may be possible to claim it back.
  • Non-material damage may be awarded if you endured mental harm because of the breach. For example, you could claim for suffering caused by anxiety or depression.

If you’d like to learn more about compensation payouts in claims stemming from social services data breaches, get in touch for free.

Calculating Compensation Payouts After A Social Services Data Breach

If social services have a data breach, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can seek compensation. However, if a body that was supposed to protect your personal data fails to due to wrongful conduct, and you suffer, you could seek damages.

How much can you claim for a data breach?

Part of the damages you might seek could involve psychological harm. Let’s now look at what amount of compensation you could be paid. The table below shows compensation ranges that could be applicable if you suffer mental injuries because of the breach.

We’ve used figures from the Judicial College Guidelines to create the below compensation table. Legal professionals use these guidelines to help when valuing claims because they provide a list of injuries alongside possible compensation.

Injury Type Category Settlement Range
Mental or Psychiatric Harm Severe (a) From £54,830 to £115,730
Moderately Severe (b) From £19,070 to £54,830
Moderate (c) From £5,860 to £19,070
Less Severe (d) Up to £5,860
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Severe (a) From £59,860 to £100,670
Moderately Severe (b) From £23,150 to £59,860
Moderate (c) From £8,180 to £23,150
Less Severe (d) Up to £8,180

Importantly, you can now claim compensation for non-material damages (mental harm) even if you’ve not suffered any monetary losses. That’s because of a ruling by the Court of Appeal during the case of Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc [2015]. Before this case, you’d need to suffer financial loss in order to claim psychological damage.

If you’d like our advisors to value your claim for free, get in touch.

social services data breaches

If Social Services Breach Data Protection Rules, Can I Make A No Win No Fee Claim?

We know that if there’s a risk of losing money on solicitor fees, claimants may avoid seeking out the compensation they deserve with the help of a solicitor. Therefore, our panel of solicitors offer a No Win No Fee service. If your claim is accepted, you’ll know that you won’t pay any solicitor fees if the claim fails. As a result, you may find the whole process less stressful.

If a solicitor from our panel agrees to represent you, their work will be done under a Conditional Fee Agreement. (That’s another term for a No Win No Fee agreement.) This will explain clearly that you’ll only pay the solicitor’s ‘success fee’ if you’re awarded compensation. The fee is a fixed percentage of your award that’s deducted by your solicitor.

By law, success fees are capped and you’ll know the percentage before the solicitor agrees to take on the claim. If you’d like to check whether you could claim on a No Win No Fee basis, please call today.

Make A Data Breach Claim

You are almost at the conclusion of this article on what you could do if social services breach data protection rules. If you are ready to talk with us, you can:

  • Call our free legal advice line on 0800 408 7825.
  • Contact us to request a callback from a specialist advisor.
  • Connect to live chat to ask questions online.

We’re here to provide free legal advice on data breach claims whether you decide to take action or not.

Learn More About Social Services Data Breaches

Below, you can find out more about making a data breach claim:

  • Social Work Data – Guidance from the ICO on how the UK GDPR applies to social work data.
  • Your Right Of Access – Advice on how to ask an organisation to provide the information they hold on you.
  • Types Of Anxiety – Information about what anxiety is and how different people suffer from it.
  • Wrong Email Address Compensation – Advice on how to claim if an email containing personal data meant for you was sent to someone without a lawful basis.
  • Lost Device Claims – This guide will help if you’ve suffered because a device containing personal data about you was lost.
  • How To Claim – General information on how our panel of solicitors could help you claim compensation.

Remember, if you have any more questions about claiming for a social services data breach, please get in touch