UK: Automated Benefits System Failing People in Need

(London) – The UK government's rigid insistence on automating Universal Credit threatens the rights of people most at risk of poverty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. A comprehensive redesign of how the government calculates the social security benefit is urgently needed to restore people’s rights to a decent standard of living, particularly as they face severe income loss and other economic shocks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The 70-page report, “Automated Hardship: How the Tech-Driven Overhaul of the UK’s Benefits System Worsens Poverty,” details how a poorly designed algorithm is causing people to go hungry, fall into debt and experience psychological distress. Human Rights Watch has also found that the government is failing to address the socio-economic inequalities which prevent people from being able to apply for and manage their benefit online.

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