Trelleborg welfare management automation

Trelleborg municipality in south Sweden was one of the first authorities in the country to automate the assessment and distribution of welfare payments. 

Capitalising on a change in Swedish national law in 2018 that enabled the payment of welfare benefits without human intervention, Trelleborg municipality in south Sweden automated the assessment and distribution of welfare payments. 

The system was a fully automated system using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to assess and distribute payments. The local government claimed this would help them increase efficiency and reallocate resources elsewhere.

System 🤖

Operator: Trelleborg Municipality
Developer: Trelleborg Municipality
Country: Sweden
Sector: Govt - welfare
Purpose: Optimise welfare payments
Technology: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Issue: Fairness; Employment - jobs; Privacy
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Complaints/appeals; Legal

Risks and harms 🛑

Trelleborg's automated welfare management system was accused of being unfair, resulting in citizens' loss of benefits and in job losses. The municipality was also accused of poor governance, transparency and accountability.

Transparency 🙈

Researchers, journalists and other experts found themselves unable to access the system's data, code or model to assess its effectiveness or fairness, and freedom of information requests were summarily blocked on the grounds of trade secrecy.

Research, advocacy 🧮