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MILLIONS WASTED AS ANTI-FRAUD PROJECT SHELVED

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Millions of pounds have been wasted after the government pulled the plug on a new system which was claimed could ha...
Millions of pounds have been wasted after the government pulled the plug on a new system which was claimed could have saved more than the£850m a year currently lost through benefit fraud and error, reported The Mail on Sunday (p34).

The Integrated Enquiry Service was designed to provide a file on the welfare payments made to each individual in Britain. All agencies involved would have been able to share information.

But six pilot schemes in Manchester, Leeds, Teesdale, Guildford, Canterbury and South Ayrshire have ended in 'disaster' after a year of costly training and installation of expensive equipment.

Last August a£200m contract was awarded to a consortium called Affinity, led by American company EDS, founded by former presidential candidate Ross Perot. Developing IES was just part of Affinity's 10-year contract under the public finance intiative/public partnerships.

A senior EDS source said at the weekend: 'We've had to admit defeat on this one. We could not guarantee fixing severl of the problems that were highlighted during the pilot projects and even had to admit that we could never solve them'.

He estimated around£10m had been wasted. The problem had been trying to integrate all computers in a large number of different locations. Another problem was that benefit regulations changed so often the software package would have to be changed to keep up - and that would further add to the cost.

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