A GOVERNMENT response to a written parliamentary question which I put forward has revealed that over 1.3 million calls (12% of total calls) to the Universal Credit helpline were abandoned in the last 12 months.
The figures suggest that many desperate claimants are giving up, or not able to get through to DWP for support.
Everything we hear about Universal Credit suggests that it is failing in its purpose to provide help and support to vulnerable and low income claimants. I worry that at this busy time of year, people needing help to make ends meet – many of whom are hardworking people – won’t get the support they need from the Government.
Oldham was one of the first pilot areas for Universal Credit, so I have seen first-hand the devastation it caused, shown by the growing need for Foodbank use in the area.
The staggering figure supports growing evidence that the helpline is not fit for purpose. Evidence – including from current and former DWP staff – suggests that applicants and claimants are being forced to wait for lengthy periods of time to receive help. Reports suggest that DWP call centre staff have been unable to manage the sheer volume of calls, leaving some claimants without a response or the level of support they require
This evidence contradicts the DWP’s response to the parliamentary question, which attempts to explain away the abandoned calls by assuming that callers are instead going online. No evidence was provided by the DWP to support this assumption.
Earlier this year the Government was forced to scrap charges to the helpline, after it was revealed that low-income claimants could be paying up to 55p a minute for calls to fix problems with their claim.