The Universal Credit Helpline Is Free, But Nothing Else Has Changed

Same Difference

In the latest development around universal credit the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, announced this morning that all Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) helplines will be free from the end of the year.

It’s remarkable how much pressure it took to achieve this concession. Indeed, from the beginning, the response to news that universal credit claimants are being charged up to 55p a minute to call the government helpline has had an air of “let them eat cake” about it.

New figures suggest that benefit recipients could be spending over £50m a year calling the DWP helpline but until Gauke’s announcement the prime minister’s spokesman had simply stated that anyone worried about the cost could ask for a call back. Some commentators, meanwhile, point out that a call costs only 9p a minute on a landline.

That many families struggling on low incomes can’t afford to…

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