Help us fight the DWP’s secret benefits algorithm

by Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Help us fight the DWP’s secret benefits algorithm

by Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People
Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People
Case Owner
We are a Disabled People's Organisation run and controlled by disabled people. We use the Social Model of Disability to fight for our rights and to remove disabling barriers in society.
17
days to go
£15,550
pledged of £15,000 stretch target from 597 pledges
Pledge now
Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People
Case Owner
We are a Disabled People's Organisation run and controlled by disabled people. We use the Social Model of Disability to fight for our rights and to remove disabling barriers in society.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Feb. 24, 2022

Letter Before Action Launched, Last Chance for DWP!

Case update: Back in December, we sent our first legal letter to the Department for Work and Pensions DWP asking them to come clean about their secret benefit investigations algorithm. They ston…

Read more

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is using a highly secretive algorithm forcing disabled people into gruelling and invasive benefit fraud investigations.

To date the government has failed to provide any details about the algorithm. We don’t know how it works, how and why people are flagged for investigation, what information or data about us is used in this decision making, how the government is ensuring the rights of disabled people are protected and what checks and balances are in place to ensure that this algorithm doesn’t destroy lives.

But we do know the impact of the algorithm on our community. It is fear, confusion and endless cycles of bureaucracy. We live in fear of the brown envelope. Or the out-of-the blue phone call, that fails to explain why we’ve been flagged.

That brown envelope, or that phone call, lets us know we’ve been pinpointed by the algorithm and that our lives could be about to be thrown into turmoil. Once flagged by the algorithm, an automated system is kick-started that forces targeted people to repeatedly explain why they need payments in an aggressive and humiliating process that can last up to a year.

We know that the DWP doesn’t always get these decisions right, particularly when it comes to disabled people. Incorrect decisions are made so often, in fact, that wrong decisions have to be overturned every minute of the working day. Whether or not people receive benefits can be a matter of life and death for some.

What are we doing about it? 

We are the Greater Manchester Coalition for Disabled People, an organisation run and controlled by disabled people. We exist to promote the independence and inclusion of disabled people in society, and to challenge the discrimination disabled people face. We are supported by Foxglove, a non-profit fighting to make technology fair. We have issued legal correspondence seeking more information about this algorithm. If it’s unlawful, we will challenge it in court. But we need your help. Please donate whatever you can afford to help make this possible.

We have given the government 21 days to respond to our legal letter. We will let you know as soon as we receive a response. If we don’t get satisfactory answers, and the information we need about this algorithm, we will bring a judicial review.

What does the law say? 

The government has a legal obligation to provide answers about how this algorithm works, what safeguards have been put in place to stop discriminatory decision making and what people can do if they believe a decision has been made about them unfairly.

The law says that the government must be transparent in this type of decision making. This includes Article 5(1)(a) of the GDPR, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as and the common law principle of transparency. We believe that the government is breaking the law by keeping this secret.

Why do we need to raise money?

We hope the DWP will give us the answers we need in response to our legal letter. If they don’t, or if their response reveals further issues with the algorithm, we are prepared to go to court to make this right. But we need your support to make that possible. 

We are launching this crowdfunder to cover the cost risks associated with the case. Our legal team work on ‘conditional fee agreements’. That means they only recover their costs from the other side if we win. But if we lose in court, we could have to pay the other side's costs. If we bring a judicial review we will be asking the court for a “Cost Capping Order”. If the court grants that it means that there would be a limit on the amount we can be forced to pay in the event we lose. To make this case possible we need to raise £10,000.

What happens to funds raised if we don’t spend it on legal fees?

If for some reason we don’t need to spend all the donations on this case or if we don't end up in court, you will be offered a refund. Should you choose not to request a refund your donation will go to us, the Greater Manchester Coalition for Disabled People to support our work fighting for the rights of disabled people in society.

Our team

We, the Greater Manchester Coalition for Disabled People are the claimants in this case. That means we are taking the government to court. We are supported by Foxglove.

This case is being taken by a fantastic team of lawyers, including Rosa Curling at Scott-Moncrieff & Associates and Director of Foxglove, Conor McCarthy of Monckton Chambers and Will Perry of Monckton Chambers.

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Update 2

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Feb. 24, 2022

Letter Before Action Launched, Last Chance for DWP!

Case update: Back in December, we sent our first legal letter to the Department for Work and Pensions DWP asking them to come clean about their secret benefit investigations algorithm. They stonewalled us. So, last Thursday our legal team sent what’s called a ‘pre-action letter’ to the DWP. This is a formal legal letter and the DWP now has 28 days to respond to it. We’ve told the DWP that they must reveal exactly how their algorithm works and we’ve asked them to 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. If the DWP fail to do that, we will seek a judicial review. To do that we need to raise funds to reach our target of £15,000. Please donate whatever you can afford and share this page with anyone you think might be interested. 

We will continue to keep you posted every step of the way and we are so grateful to everyone who has contributed so far to help make this case possible. 

Update 1

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Dec. 9, 2021

WOW! You did it, let's go for the stretch goal!!!

Thank you to everyone who has pledged money and/or who has shared this page. We are astonished to have hit our target in less than 10 days! 

We have now set a stretch goal of £15,000 which is a dream amount that maybe is possible given the success so far. Whatever amount we end up with when this closes on New Years Eve, we will be going together into 2022 with an amazing fighting fund. We are so grateful for all the pledges and please keep sharing and talking about the case and your experiences of the DWP.  In fact sharing experiences of the DWP is vital, the rest of society need to know the shameful way disabled people are treated by this government ministry. If anyone wants to talk to us about their experience of being investigated for fraud/compliance by the DWP we are really really keen to support you to tell your story to the wider media please email rick@gmcdp.com or call/text 07367 754 595

And here are some stories in the media about the case already

DWP urged to reveal algorithm that ‘targets’ disabled for benefit fraud

DWP bosses quizzed by MPs over secret benefit fraud algorithm

Disabled people being forced on 'gruelling and invasive hamster wheel' of benefits appeals, group warns

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