I'm not so sure that the GPC makes much irrelevant as while it opens with the provision "A local authority has power to do anything that individuals generally may do" it's also worth remembering that individuals are also bound by privacy / data protection law - either directly if they're LAs acting like individuals under GPC, or indirectly if they're actual individuals standing in from of a regulator / court etc that is obliged (as a public authority) to act compatibly with things like HRA.
Looking at the specific case discussed here, yes, an LA has authority to offer a debt collection service in the same way as an individual does. Now, suppose an individual sets up their own collection agency / service and then writes to LAs asking for access to their Council Tax databases - would the individual be likely to receive an open-armed welcome? FOI should refuse it as taxpayers' personal data, there doesn't seem to be an immediate path for said databases to be re-used under ROPSI (Reg 13(2) inst. would seem relevant).
I may have misunderstood GPC etc, but if the Localism Act grants a general power to behave the way individuals CAN, it strikes me as a bit of a stretch to carry that forward into an ability to behave in ways that individuals legally cannot.
Either way, agreement to disagree tabled here - if someone wants to give it a try and let us know how they get on that'd be great.
Deputy Data Protection Officer
Data Protection Office
Strategy, Performance and Transformation Directorate
Sunderland City Council
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