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11 Mar 2009 : Column 19WS

The consultation ended on 15 January 2009 and 76 formal written responses were received. The consultation response provides a summary of responses and the next steps in the light of the consultation and the ongoing work being undertaken to review the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The consultation sought views on proposed new Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) forms, Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and Court of Protection fees and a new level of supervision for Court appointed deputies.

We plan to introduce revised LPA forms, which will be amended to take on board comments, received through consultation, in October this year and lay a fresh forms statutory instrument before the summer.

We will be changing the OPG’s supervisory regimes to ensure they are more flexible and responsive to client needs and taking forward fees as proposed in the consultation document, including a reduction in the fee to apply to register a Lasting Power of Attorney from £150 to £120 with effect from 1 April 2009.

I have today laid before Parliament the Court of Protection Fees (Amendment) Order 2009 and the Public Guardian (Fees, etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2009.

The Public Guardian (Fees, etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 set out the fees to be charged for the services provided by the Public Guardian.

The Court of Protection Fees (Amendment) Order 2009 sets out the fees to be charged for matters coming to the Court of Protection.

Work and Pensions

Voice Risk Analysis

The Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform (Mr. Tony McNulty): I wish to update the House on the progress made in piloting Voice Risk Analysis technology.

In its 2005 strategy document “Reducing fraud in the benefit system: achievements and ambitions”, the Government made a public commitment to test Voice Risk Analysis technology, as one method of preventing fraudulent claims to Social Security benefits over the telephone.

The Department is conducting its own research into the efficacy of Voice Risk Analysis based on trials by local authorities and Jobcentre Plus. The Department’s research is based on field tests of the technology that
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assess its capacity to differentiate successfully between high and low risk claims. The Department is committed to ensuring that decisions to use or not use the technology are supported by evidence. The Department’s evaluation is being conducted by departmental statisticians who are bound by a national code of practice.

Departmental statisticians have completed an evaluation of the data from six trials in local authorities and one by Jobcentre Plus. The pilots included reviews of existing housing benefit claims in local authorities or consortia of local authorities and new claims to income support and job seeker’s allowance in Jobcentre Plus. One additional local authority trial returned too few calls for analysis.

In each trial customers provided information to support their claim over the telephone and staff used Voice Risk Analysis technology to help classify the call as high or low risk. A selection of customers from both groups was followed up with a face-to-face review that aimed to corroborate the operator’s judgment by seeing whether this further investigation revealed changes that would have affected the benefit in payment.

The results are shown below.

“Low risk” cases withbenefit changefollowing furtherinvestigation“High risk” caseswith benefit changefollowing furtherinvestigationDifference betweenbenefit changes inhigh and low riskcases

New Claims

Jobcentre Plus

29%

37%

8%

Reviews

Birmingham

5%

40%

35%

Derwentside

4%

35%

31%

Edinburgh

12%

43%

31%

Harrow

22%

32%

10%

Lambeth

16%

21%

5%

Wealden

10%

12%

2%


Earlier this year, the Department announced a second phase of local authority pilots (24 in total) that are now underway and will run for 12 months. These will provide a broader evidence base and a clearer indication of the technology’s capacity to distinguish reliably between high and low risk cases. Results will be available in spring 2010.

All of the councils involved have reported a very high level of customer satisfaction with the new process. Customers find it more convenient and faster than the previous process based on filling in forms or visits.

I will update the House as to the findings when they are available.


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