Nearly 1/2 councils in UK use algorithms to help make claims decisions (The Guardian, 28 Oct 2020)

  • Nearly half of councils in Great Britain use algorithms to help make claims decisions

  • By Sarah Marsh and Niamh McIntyre. Published in the Guardian on 28 October 2020

  • Summary:

    • "Nearly half of councils in England, Wales and Scotland have used or are using computer algorithms to help make decisions about benefit claims, who gets social housing and other issues, despite concerns about their reliability.

    • "A Guardian freedom of information investigation has established that 100 out of 229 councils have used or are using automated decision-making programmes, many without consulting at all with the public on their use.

    • "This is despite one council admitting that results from one algorithm showed it was only 26% accurate in some instances. The company behind it said it was because people often entered information wrongly.

    • "Another council dropped an artificial intelligence tool to process new benefit claims, saying they were not satisfied with its reliability.

    • "A range of private companies are selling machine-learning packages to local authorities that are under pressure to save money. The systems are being deployed to provide automated guidance on benefit claims, help decide who gets social housing, and allocate school places among a range of other uses.

    • "Concerns have been raised about the arbitrary nature of these programmes, which inform important decisions about people’s lives, and their scope for making mistakes."

  • Keywords: England, Wales, Scotland, UK, United Kingdom, algorithms, automated decision-making systems, ADM, social housing

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