Upload a photo Upload a video Upload an mp3 Upload an event

News


MP Hits Out At Rip Off Benefit Help Numbers

Tuesday November 6 2012


MP John Healey MP John Healey


HUNDREDS of desperate Barnsley residents are failing to get government help with benefits and job searching because they are on hold on premium rate phone lines for so long.

John Healey, MP, says people are being charged rip off rates for using government helplines that are meant to answer enquiries about disabled and sickness benefits, jobs, pensions, crisis loans and child support payments.

And, in some cases, they wait so long for someone to answer that they end up abandoning the call without getting any help.

He says he began looking into it after a local from Goldthorpe complained he was regularly left on hold for more than 20 minutes when phoning his local job centre.

He said: "People needing to call these rip-off numbers will usually be on low and fixed incomes and they may not have a landline.

“If they need to make a claim, ask for information or advice or report a mistake or change in circumstances the cost of the call will take a big chunk out of their already stretched budget.

“The Department is profiting at the expense of the people it is there to help and the high cost is likely to put many off asking for help when they really need it. It is a scandal.”

Mr Healey is now looking to secure a Parliamentary debate on the issue after his research revealed that 148 (87 per cent) of the Department for Work and Pensions phone lines are 0845 numbers – which up to 41p a minute from a mobile and 10p a minute from a landline.

A third of calls to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) helpline are abandoned because they aren't answered and callers to the Incapacity Benefit reassessment line wait nearly 13 minutes before they hang up without an answer.

Mr Healey says the average phone call could cost locals £5 a time. 

What do you think? Should the 0845 numbers be scrapped? What's the longest you've been on hold for?

Leave a comment
comments powered by Disqus
9 Showing 9 comments

Reply Posted by j on Tuesday November 6 2012 at 16:22
About time someone are doing something about these numbers

Reply Posted by craig on Tuesday November 6 2012 at 16:29
0845 numbers r wrong at the job centre you ring them up and you cant understand them 2 days on the trot i had to phonbe them then it 2 days 4 them to get back to me so yes these numbers need scraping

Reply Posted by janet on Tuesday November 6 2012 at 19:14
last year when i had a change of circumstances, my monthly bill went from 5/10 pound to 45 pound messing about foning every dep as every dep said i needed diff department, shoved from pillar to post, high bills and no god damn money at end of it to pay bill. dss should be free phone

Reply Posted by Aunt Hilder on Tuesday November 6 2012 at 21:20
This has been a problem for some time now. The Government have an agenda to drive people to make and manage their benefit claims on-line. Long queues (and costs) on the telephones are a handy tool to help achieve this aim.

I have used the councils welfare rights service for general information and advice and found them to be brilliant.

Reply Posted by Alan on Tuesday November 6 2012 at 23:47
Hmmm, I agree they are a total rip-off, profiting from those in need the most. But as to it being an agenda to make people manage their claims online, that is untrue, as most of the tasks people call for cannot be done online anyway which forces claimants to call. Profiteering plain and simple. Disgusting policy which should have been dealt with years ago.

Reply Posted by Aunt Hilder on Wednesday November 7 2012 at 19:40
I can understand your scepticism but all the recorded messages, while on hold, ask people to use the website.

Again, I would urge people having problems with their benefits to use the council's welfare rights service. When my grandmother needed help to sort out her benefit claims following a bereavement they were brilliant. Everything sorted free of charge by a very presentable, professional and friendly advisor. Give them a go by phoniing their advice line. 772360.

Reply Posted by anon on Wednesday November 7 2012 at 08:46
the 0845 numbers should be scrapped they cost too much to ring yes go on line and get info thats a joke as right at the end it says print form and hand it in to your local job centre if youre on benefits many cant afford internet pcs and printers so another cop out by dwp make it fairer and cheaper for those who are living on the poverty line without making them further go into debt alot of people who are trying to claim benefits are not doing it by choice but by the state the countries in today

Reply Posted by anon on Wednesday November 7 2012 at 08:46
the 0845 numbers should be scrapped they cost too much to ring yes go on line and get info thats a joke as right at the end it says print form and hand it in to your local job centre if youre on benefits many cant afford internet pcs and printers so another cop out by dwp make it fairer and cheaper for those who are living on the poverty line without making them further go into debt alot of people who are trying to claim benefits are not doing it by choice but by the state the countries in today

Reply Posted by julie on Wednesday November 7 2012 at 13:51
i totally agree.Ive had to ring my local job centre plus a few times recently.the last time i rang i was waiting about 20 mins listening to music before i spoke to someone. when i finished my query i asked the person if i would have to start paying for the call straight away or when she actually answered me. she informed me its straight away. i said i was disgusted & it was a right rip off to which she replied you can come into the job centre & use the phone for free. i could do that but then i would have to pay bus fare 2 ways so it kind of defeats the object.