Lie detector tech to catch benefit cheats

The PM has announced that voice analysis lie detector tests will be used to test benefit claimants.

Fraudulent benefit claimants will be subject to lie detector tests, according to the Cabinet Office paper summarised by Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday.

Using "voice risk analysis technology" to test information citizens provide, 25 local councils administer housing benefits to 500,000 claimants. The technology was introduced in Harrow last year and saved the borough 300,000 in the first three months of use because of rejecting fraudulent claims.

The government is taking that as evidence that the number of claimants cheating the system may be much more than expected. Fraudulent claims, however, have gone down 66 per cent since 2001, and are at the lowest recorded level in history.

Under new legislation, if claimants are found guilty of fraud they could lose all benefits for a month. Past legislation withdrew 13 weeks of benefit only after two fraudulent claims were committed within five years.

"As everyone enters difficult economic times fair rules will become more important," the Cabinet Office paper said. "If people perceive that not everyone is treated equally, that some get preferential treatment, that people who break the rules get away with it, respect for rules is undermined."

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