Laura Sharman 30 September 2020

Automated benefit system 'pushing people into poverty'

Automated benefit system pushing people into poverty image

The UK’s automated benefits systems is threatening the rights of people most at risk of poverty, campaigners have warned.

A new report from Human Rights Watch argues the government’s ‘flawed’ algorithm for Universal Credit is causing people to go hungry, experience psychological distress and fall into debt.

It argues that the algorithm that measures how much people are entitled to each month only reflects the wages people receive within a calendar month, and not how frequently they are paid.

Amos Toh, senior artificial intelligence and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: ‘The Government has put a flawed algorithm in charge of deciding how much money to give people to pay rent and feed their families.

’The government’s bid to automate the benefits system – no matter the human cost – is pushing people to the brink of poverty.’

It proposes moving to shorter periods of income assessment or using averaged earnings over long periods to decide payment amounts.

Photo: Michaelasbest /

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