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    Over 20 councils have used or have plans to use lie detector tests to catch fraudulent benefits claimants.

    Although the government has dropped this use of technology as they believe it to unreliable, 24 local authorities responded to freedom of information requests confirming they were using or considering the use of “voice risk analysis” software. Old Phone 3

    In 2010 the DWP announced that they had given up using VRA software, however the FOI responses highlighted that some councils were still spending millions of pounds on it, reports the Guardian.

    Local authorities have continued to use VRA software to see if people are honestly claiming the single person council tax discount.

    VRA is supposed to be able to detect signs of stress in a caller’s voice by analysing snippets of speech however, critics say the system is not powerful enough to distinguish between fraudsters and honest callers.

    The group that put in the FOI requests to over 200 local authorities, False Economy, told the Guardian “It says a lot about council outsourcing – and the benefits-bashing agenda – that this pseudo-scientific gimmick is now making its way in through the back door. Capita is a firm with a long rap sheet of expensive failure. Neither they nor their technological snake oil should be trusted.”

    The DWP told the Guardian: “Local authorities are free to design their own approaches to preventing benefit fraud.”

    In a statement Capita said that, when it “undertakes a council tax single person discount review, councils can choose to use voice risk analysis technology as part of the process. The technology was never used in isolation. It is only used in cases which are deemed ‘high risk’, when earlier stages of the review have indicated that more than one person may be living at the property. The selective use of VRA technology is a useful additional tool in the validation process of identifying potentially fraudulent claims for single person discount.”

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    March 11, 2014 by Laura Matthews Categories: Benefits

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