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WELFARE DATA WATCH

Join our investigation to uncover the Government’s use of secret algorithms that shape the welfare system and disadvantage society’s poorest, by using our simple tool.


TAKE ACTION

TAKE PART IN OUR GROUNDBREAKING INVESTIGATION

We need your help to uncover how the Government uses a secret algorithm to monitor housing benefit recipients.

Britain’s poor are being spied on by 'risk scoring' tools which could lead to benefits being unfairly reviewed, or worse, taken away.

To better understand how these tools work we need your urgent help. You can find out what information the Department of Work and Pensions has stored on you by following our quick and easy guide.

Together, we can expose these secretive and likely discriminatory Government algorithms.

POVERTY PANOPTICON

Our 9-month long investigation “Poverty Panopticon: The Hidden Algorithms Shaping Britain’s Welfare State” was published in July 2021. It revealed how councils across the UK are conducting mass profiling of welfare and social care recipients and “citizen scoring” to predict fraud, rent non-payments and major life events. Huge databases predict if children are at risk of abuse or if people could likely to become involved in future criminality or even if they’re being abused.

The algorithms that we investigated are often based on limited evidence, are incredibly invasive and are likely discriminatory.

Read the report by clicking here or on the image below

The algorithms that we have uncovered are unevidenced, incredibly invasive and likely discriminatory. Councils are using tools of automated suspicion without residents’ knowledge or their consent and risk disadvantaging and discriminating against Britain’s poor.

OUR KEY FINDINGS



540,000 benefits applicants secretly assigned fraud risk scores by councils’ algorithms before they can access support.






Personal data from 1.6 million people living in social housing is processed by commercial algorithms to predict rent non-payers






250,000+ people’s personal information processed by secretive automated tools that try to predict if they’ll be abused, become homeless, or become involved in crime

TAKE ACTION

If you receive Housing Benefit. the Department for Work and Pensions is using your personal information to predict if you’re committing fraud. We can help you to find your risk score – and you can help our investigation.

You’re legally entitled to access your risk score and it puts you’re benefits at no risk whatsoever. In fact, accessing it and correcting any errors can help you. Every one who the computer predicts is a fraud risk is subjected to a full review by the council – without you being told why - which could result in benefits being abruptly stopped.

Leaving a computer to decide whose benefits application needs to be reviewed is an invasion of privacy and opens the door for unfairness and discrimination in the welfare system.

Ask the Government what YOUR risk score is – and if you share the results with us, we can help you understand what is happening to your personal information, and shed light on the secretive tool.

You can send a Subject Access Request to the DWP by following our instructions below.

Let us know if you have sent off a Subject Access Request, or if you have any questions, by emailing us at info@bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

Make a Subject Access Request

You are legally entitled to ask any organisation how they use your information and why. A Subject Access Request lets you ask what data your council or the DWP holds on you and how it is used.

The responses you get will be vital to our research - if you decide to share it confidentially with Big Brother Watch. In return, we promise to do everything we can to explain how your data is being processed.

If you receive Housing Benefit and want to help our investigation, follow these three simple steps:

1. Fill in this form

2. Copy and paste the letter below into the “Information You Need Box”

We suggest a date range for the request from 1st January 2019 to the present day.

It is important to include a) your contact details; b) any additional information (account numbers, etc.) that the council may use to distinguish you from others.

You may be asked to provide a copy of an ID to make sure you’re getting the right data, this is completely normal.

3. Send the results in confidence to info@bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

If you have been subjected to an unexpected or unexplained Full Case Review about your Housing Benefit, we want to hear from you.

If you have any questions, email us at info@bigbrotherwatch.org.uk we are happy to help.