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Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what scientific evidential basis has been used by his Department in its analysis of the use of voice risk analysis technology by benefit authorities; and if he will make a statement; (244211)

(2) what assessment of the efficacy of the use of voice risk analysis technology by benefit authorities his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned from (i) independent bodies and (ii) service providing contractors; and what the (A) methodology and (B) conclusions of those assessments is;

(3) what disability impact assessment of the use of voice risk analysis technology in each pilot benefit authority his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned from (i) independent bodies and (ii) service providing contractors; and what the (A) methodology and (B) conclusions of those assessments are;

(4) what assessments of the use of voice risk analysis technology by benefit authorities have been published by his Department.

There is a body of published scientific research on voice risk analysis, but there is no published research on the efficacy of the technology when applied to benefit claims. The Department is therefore conducting its own research into the efficacy of voice risk analysis based on trials by local authorities and Jobcentre Plus. The Department’s evaluation is being conducted by departmental statisticians who are bound by a National Code of Practice. The Department has not commissioned any independent bodies or service providing contractors to conduct an evaluation.

The Department’s assessment of its voice risk analysis trials during 2007-08 in Jobcentre Plus and local authorities, and details of its evaluation methodology, have been published. I refer the hon. Member to the Official Report, column 19WS of the 11 March. Each local authority conducting trials of voice risk analysis technology is responsible for completing a disability impact assessment. This is a prerequisite to participation in the Department’s trial.

In accordance with departmental policy on carrying out equality impact assessments Jobcentre Plus conducted an initial screening on their voice risk analysis pilot. The pilot was restricted to assessing whether the technology could successfully identify the difference between high and low risk readings. As the pilot processes were specifically designed to test the voice risk analysis technology only and not its use as a new process or policy for implementation across Jobcentre Plus, it was concluded a full impact assessment was not required.

The Department has not commissioned any independent bodies or service providing contractors to conduct a disability impact assessment.