Voice risk analysis software traps benefit cheats

Hundreds of benefit cheats have been caught out using lie-detector style technology which monitors stress in people's voices, a council said.

Basildon Council in Essex said it had saved more than £235,000 after finding 650 people wrongly claiming a 25 per cent council tax discount by falsely stating that they lived alone.

A spokesman said voice risk analysis (VRA) software was used to monitor people's voices over the telephone. VRA software, provided by Capita and partners Digilog, “the world's leading provider of integrated risk-reduction solutions for validating integrity”, claims to detect stress in a person's voice, though not necessarily lying. It recognises changes in a caller’s voice such as modulations in timbre, which could indicate that incorrect details had been supplied.

James Plaskitt, anti-fraud Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said: “This positive and encouraging news from the pilots shows that this technology is helping to combat benefit fraud. It is also making it quicker and easier to review claims, especially for those people who are genuinely entitled to benefits.”

So far the technology is being trialled by local authorities in places including Birmingham, Coventry, Harrow, Lambeth, Derwentside, Edinburgh, Warwick and Wealdon. So far all these pilot sites have indicated that they would like to continue the trial.

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