New research published today by the Department for Work and Pensions feeds into the overall evaluation of the Voice Risk Analysis Pilots. Piloting of the VRA process for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claims began in late 2007 and was extended with a larger scale trial taking place through to the end of 2009. The research sought to collect qualitative evidence from staff, claimants and potential claimants on their views and experiences of the VRA process.
The primary objective of the research was to understand whether VRA is viewed positively or negatively and whether or not VRA was likely to deter those with a legitimate claim from making a benefit claim or whether a negative experience was likely to put off claimants continuing with their (valid) claim.
The main findings include:
There was no evidence that VRA would deter legitimate claimants from making a claim.
All audiences stressed the need for traditional routes, such as postal and face-to-face services, to remain open.
Overall staff welcomed VRA and its role in enabling them to process higher volumes of claims more efficiently.
It was generally felt that VRA was not suitable for claimants who may be vulnerable because of age, disability or mental health problems.
Notes to Editors
The research is based on findings from a mixture of focus groups, in-depth interviews and site visits to local authorities and a call centre.
This report was written by Lorna Adams, Katie Oldfield, Jane Barlow and Alice Large of IFF Research.