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Labour to use AI to speed up benefit claims and match unemployed people with jobs

Labour will use AI to speed up benefit claims and match unemployed people to job vacancies, the party will pledge tomorrow.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth will announce plans to use the technology to streamline job centre services if Labour wins the next election.

He will say he wants to reform the way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Jobcentres work in order to make them more streamlined.

Under the proposals, unemployed people could have their CVs scanned by AI technology which would then match it with vacancies in the area. This would prevent jobseekers or work coaches having to trawl through positions being advertised.

The tech could also be used to carry out a real-time analysis of labour-market demand based on vacancies in certain areas or industries.

And the party plans to use the technology – which is already partially in use in some areas – to join up existing data sets to ensure people eligible for certain welfare, such a pension credits, are not missing out on money they are entitled to.

The party said billions of pounds worth of welfare goes unclaimed because people do not realise they are entitled to it.

i understands Labour plans to carry out these changes using the existing DWP budget, with sources saying they did not anticipate it would cost extra.

Mr Ashworth has not set out a timescale for how long the reforms would take to be implemented nationwide under the next Labour government. But Labour sources are confident work could begin on day one of the new administration.

In a speech in London, Mr Ashworth will say he plans to use AI to tackle the £8.3bn cost of fraud and error, reducing waiting times and helping vulnerable people access payments they are entitled to.

“For too long, the DWP has been offering an analogue service in an AI age,” Mr Ashworth will say.

Labour sources highlighted France, where an automatic system analyses CVs and suggests extra skills a job seeker might have, and Belgium, where an app helps users visualise occupations they could consider, as examples of how technology could be used.

In his speech to the Social Market Foundation think tank, Mr Ashworth will say: “Utilising powerful new AI tools will help Jobcentres offer more personalised, tailored support for jobseekers, helping them move into employment faster with a job that matches their skill set.

“AI in the hands of Jobcentre work coaches will better help jobseekers with CV analysis tools and interview practice preparation.”

He will also claim that better use of technology could help tackle fraud and reduce mistakes. “The shocking amounts of fraud and error overseen and disgracefully considered acceptable by this Conservative government – over £8bn on most recent figures – can be confronted making more use of machine learning and pattern-detection techniques,” Mr Ashworth will say.

It is the latest stage in Labour’s plans for welfare reform. Labour will keep the current universal credit benefit system but Mr Ashworth previously announced plans to change the way sickness and disability benefits will work.

He said Labour would end repeated work capability assessments for people on benefits who are disabled and ill, to make it easier for them to attempt to get into work, and will introduce further reform of employment support.

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