A BARNSLEY MP has secured a parliamentary debate about rip off phone numbers after he was told 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, has managed to get the debate tabled in the House of Commons for Wednesday evening (Nov 21.)

He 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.”

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