Incident 189: Opaque Fraud Detection Algorithm by the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions Allegedly Discriminated against People with Disabilities

Description: People with disabilities were allegedly disproportionately targeted by a benefit fraud detection algorithm which the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions was urged to disclose.


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Alleged: UiPath developed an AI system deployed by UK Department of Work and Pensions, which harmed people with disabilities.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor, Khoa Lam
How the Government Spies on Welfare Claimants · 2021

The UK government uses invasive data gathering techniques to try and prove that people claiming benefits are actually living lavish lifestyles.

Social media monitoring, covert physical surveillance, and data gathering from airlines, PayPal …

DWP urged to reveal algorithm that ‘targets’ disabled for benefit fraud · 2021

Manchester group launches action after people with disabilities report high number of stressful checks for potential scams

Disabled people are being subjected to stressful checks and months of frustrating bureaucracy after being identified …

DWP bosses quizzed by MPs over secret benefit fraud algorithm · 2021

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been questioned by MPs over its use of a secret set of instructions that are used by its computers to identify potential benefit fraudsters, and which appear to disproportionately target disabl…

Disabled people ‘forced on gruelling and invasive hamster wheel’ of benefits appeals · 2021

The government is ‘forcing disabled people into gruelling and invasive benefit fraud investigations', a disability group has claimed.

A Manchester disabled people’s group has issued the government’s Department for Work and Pensions with a l…

DWP faces legal action to reveal 'algorithms' that flag claims of benefit fraud · 2022

Campaigners say disabled people are being unfairly targeted and living in 'fear of the brown envelope' thanks to mysterious computer processes that the government has never fully explained.

The Department for Work and Pensions is facing fre…

Legal letter asks DWP for information on ‘discriminatory’ secret algorithm · 2022

Disabled campaigners have sent a legal letter to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to question how its use of a secret algorithm could be discriminating against disabled people in the way it selects claimants to face benefit fraud …


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.