The Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) and non-profit legal group Foxglove have sent the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) a letter before action over its use of a computer algorithm when deciding on who should be investigated for fraud.
Foxglove said the two organisations think the use of the algorithm – called the ‘General Matching Service’ – “targets disabled people in a disproportionate, unfair and discriminatory way”.
They have called on the Government “to come clean about exactly how their algorithm works and provide clear evidence that it does not unfairly discriminate against disabled people.
“The government has a legal obligation to provide answers about how the algorithm works and what safeguards are in place to stop it making discriminatory decisions."
The GMCDP and Foxglove have raised £7,677 (as at 23 February) towards a stretch target of £15,000 via Crowd Justice.
Foxglove said that DWP investigations “can last for over a year and often begin with essential cash – needed for food, energy and rent – being cut off.
“The investigation process itself is humiliating and dehumanising, with disabled people being forced to justify their needs in exhausting interviews with call centre staff and to repeatedly explain intimate details of their lives to non-disabled people.”
The DWP said it was always mindful of its legal obligations and had a duty to the taxpayer to address fraud and error. It added that a human analyses and reviews all potential cases suspected of fraud and error.
A spokesperson said: “The DWP will be responding to the letter written by the representatives of the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People in due course.”