Section: Welfare Benefits

Revealed: What really happens when you call the Universal Credit helpline

Posted 12.10.17
The HuffPost UK: Article link

Note - there is a relevant update at the end of this article.

An exercise by HuffPost UK found that Universal Credit claimants can languish on hold to a government helpline while racking up bills as high as £16, without the option of an immediate call back, contradicting claims made today by Downing Street.

One call placed by HuffPost UK to the dedicated 0345 number took 12 and a half minutes to be answered in person, at which point an adviser refused to call back straight away due to data protection rules.

The call would have cost some Universal Credit claimants more than 11% of their weekly allowance, which is meant to "help with living costs".

According to the article, a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions told HuffPost: "Most people claim Universal Credit online, but for those who want to call us, they are charged at local rates which are free for many people as part of their call package. We offer to call people back at no charge."

Update - 17.10.17

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke confirmed that the Government has now decided to scrap fees for the Universal Credit helpline and it will be free to use within a month.

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Updated 24.10.17

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