UK: nationwide lie detector tests to catch benefit cheats

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Wed Dec 3 06:01:59 PST 2008

(Coming next: all useless eaters into showers and delousing)

Nationwide lie detector tests to catch benefit cheats

Benefit claimants will be subjected to lie detector tests to discover if they
are cheating the system in a widespread Government crackdown.

Last Updated: 10:21AM GMT 03 Dec 2008

Currently 25 local councils use voice risk analysis technology to test if a
claimant is providing false information but now the scheme will be roled out

In Harrow, north-west London, where the technology was first introduced,
officials estimate they have saved B#300,000 in three months by rejecting
fraudulent claims.

Unemployed people could also be forced to carry out "community punishments"
such as litter-picking or gardening if they miss meetings designed to help
them back into the workplace.

And single parents and those on sickness benefits will have part of their
weekly payments stopped for not keeping to a promise that they will make
themselves ready for work.

The tough sanctions have been put forward by a Government adviser and could
be adopted by ministers as part of a new regime to end Britain's culture of
benefits dependency.

Currently 2.6 million people claim Incapacity Benefit, with a further 900,000
on Jobseeker's Allowance and 750,000 lone parents receiving Income Support.

As The Daily Telegraph disclosed, unemployed people on JSA will be fined up
to a month's benefits if they do not look for work under plans likely to be
outlined in the Queen's speech on Wednesday.

The Work and Pensions Secretary, James Purnell, said: "At the core of these
reforms are clear obligations on what we expect in return for benefits and
how we ensure the modern welfare state applies fair rules for all."

The review commissioned by Mr Purnell proposes dividing those on benefits
into three categories b the "work-ready", the "progression to work" and the
"no conditionality".

The first group are those who claim JSA and are expected to be actively
seeking work. If they miss one appointment they will receive a written
warning, while a second offence would lead to the docking of a week's
benefits b B#60.50 for those over 25. Those who persistently fail to look for
work face losing up to four weeks' worth of benefits.

The second group comprises those on Incapacity Benefit and lone parents of
children under seven, who are expected to return to work one day, who will
receive the new Employment Support Allowance.

They are expected to sign Action Plans detailing how they will improve their
CVs and find out about childcare, but the new proposals suggest punishments
should be introduced for those who fail to attend courses or meetings.

If they miss two appointments they will lose half of their weekly Work
Related Activity allowance (B#12), rising to the full B#24 for a third offence.

Both groups would also face a "non-financial sanction" such as "mandatory
community based work" if they are found to be "playing the system".

This could mean picking litter, digging gardens or sitting in an office from
nine to five looking for work.

Professor Paul Gregg of Bristol University, who wrote the review, admitted
the idea was to punish people by creating a "hassle" in their lives rather
than just making them poorer.

He said: "It is a bit like detention at school b non-monetary sanctions are
getting in the way of people's lives."

A third group who have severe disabilities, who are full-time carers or who
have children under the age of one would not have to show they are ready to
work in order to continue receive benefits.

The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: "I have lost
count of the number of documents the Government has published promising
radical welfare reform in the past few years, but they never seem to get on
with the job of delivering that reform."

Brendan Barber, the TUC's general secretary, added: "The TUC has long
supported the case for responsibilities and rights going together in our
benefits system but Draconian workfare policies are not the answer."

The Government will formally respond to Prof Gregg's ideas in a White Paper
later this month, but the reforms were said to be the "main item" discussed
at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

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