Robo review 'unfairly' targets Bulgarians, Poles for benefit fraud investigation

Occurred: December 2021-

Bulgarian nationals had their welfare benefits unfairly suspended without explanation, a UK government review of an automated benefits system revealed.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) faced scrutiny after Bulgarian and some Polish nationals reported unexplained suspensions of their Universal Credit benefits, prompting Edmonton MP Kate Osamor to raise concerns about potential nationality-based targeting for benefit fraud investigations.

Most of those affected were single mothers working part-time in low-paid jobs, who relied on universal credit to supplement rent payments, Osamor said. The suspensions lasted for 'protracted periods', and those impacted said to have suffered poverty, homelessness, and were forced to use food banks. 

Operator: Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
Developer: Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
Country: UK
Sector: Govt - welfare
Purpose: Detect fraud
Technology: Data matching algorithm; Machine learning
Issue: Bias/discrimination - nationality; Fairness
Transparency: Governance