From 5 to 16 November 2018, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston and his team, will undertake an official visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the invitation of the UK Government. This visit will result in a report by the Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council assessing the human rights situation for individuals experiencing poverty in the UK.
The country visit will focus on broader themes such as austerity, welfare reform (including the roll-out of Universal Credit) and Brexit. But within that wider landscape, the Special Rapporteur is keen on learning more about how the UK welfare system is becoming increasingly digital and how that development is affecting the rights of the most vulnerable in society.
When we speak, for ease of reference, of digital welfare, this refers to three seperate, but closely related, technology-driven developments in the UK welfare system. First, the transformation of citizen-facing services from human-based interactions to interactions via online platforms and other forms of information communication technology. Second, the automation of decision-making and other processes by central and local welfare authorities assisted by a range of older and newer technologies, such as artificial intelligence. Third, the increased collection of data about welfare claimants and sharing of that data between various government departments.
The Special Rapporteur and his team are keen to discuss these interrelated developments with frontline welfare rights advisors, social workers, other civil society organizations working on poverty and welfare rights and academics working in this field.
To this end, we are hosting a workshop with the Special Rapporteur and his team on the 6th of November at Cardiff University to discuss digital welfare with different stakeholders.
Read about the workshop here.