Fraudulent benefit claims cost a whopping £400m of taxpayers' money. A novel lie detector system is showing promise at cracking the devious ways of some claimants, has resulted in huge savings to the government.
The lie detector system, designed to evaluate the speech pattern of claimants, is capable of sounding an alert during a change in voice pattern. This clue could then be followed up by the benefit staff for more evidence to the stated claim.
As a trial basis, seven councils have begun to use the lie detector device, saving £420,000 pounds in the past year. Paul Osborn of The Harrow council, which is currently using the technology said, "more than 90% of people claiming benefits were honest, often people changed their stories part way through the conversation".
With the successful trials of this device, capable of saving about £30m a year exclusively from housing benefit claims, the Government has decided to install the lie detector system in 15 other areas.
On the flip side, this scheme could potentially scare authentic and needy claimants and discourage them to seek benefits.
Richard Exell, of the TUC, said: "Someone who is a practiced liar, who's deliberately defrauding the system, may very well be able to beat equipment like this, whereas someone who is scrupulously honest may actually be scared off claiming a benefit they are entitled to."
Reassuring claimants that the lie detector equipment is a means to weed out fraudulent claims, James Plaskitt, anti-fraud minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, said: "The important thing to understand is it flags up a risk, it doesn't prove the fraud in itself. It's an important additional bit of tooling."