Departmental Telephone Services
Work and Pensions
John Pugh (Southport, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average cost to benefit claimants of using 0845 numbers to contact his Department and its agencies in the latest period for which figures are available.
Chris Grayling (Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions; Epsom and Ewell, Conservative)
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) uses both 0800 and 0845 telephone numbers. DWP uses 0845 telephone numbers for calls that are typically short, for example when making an inquiry about benefits.
The Department is undertaking an internal review as to its use of 0845 numbers.
The Department provides “Customer Access Phones” (CAP) in a large number of our Jobcentre Plus offices where customers can make or inquire about benefit claims and they do not have to pay when using these facilities. The Department also encourages its customers to use online facilities as an alternative to calling its 0800 and 0845 services. Where a customer calling our 0800 or 0845 services asks us, or raises concerns over the cost of the call, we will offer to call them back.
It is difficult to gauge how much the average cost to access our 0845 services will be, as some customers may not pay anything to access our services throughout their claim. There is no way of identifying which of our customers pay to use our services and customers will be charged at different rates, depending on their landline or mobile operator.
At appendix 1 is the average speed of answer and average call duration figures, which will show how long customers were on the telephone. The costs shown are basic BT call prices, but a full list of telephone provider call charges have also been provided as follows:
|Appendix 1: Jobcentre Plus|
|Average speed of answer||Average call duration||Total c all time||Cost at 4p per min plus set up cost of 3p (£)|
|JSA, IS and IB Welsh||00:00:02||00:03:02||03:04||0.15|
|ESA Inquiries and IB/IS Reassessment Welsh||00:00:02||00:03:13||03:15||0.16|
In addition to these calls to Jobcentre Plus, calls to a customer's local jobcentre are handled via our outsourced provider, Balfour Beatty Workplace using 0845 numbers. Limitations with the telephony system used mean that they are unable to provide the average cost to customers of making these calls.
|Pensions Disability and Carers Service|
|Average speed of answer||Average call duration||Total call time||Cost at 4p per min plus set up cost of 3p (£)|
|International Pension Centre||00:00:46||00:05:03||05:49||0.26|
|Future Pension Centre||00:00:09||00:04:56||05:05||0.23|
|Pension Tracing Service||00:00:05||00:03:01||03:06||0.15|
|General Inquiry Line||00:00:45||00:05:32||06:17||0.28|
|National Pension Centre (Pensions Direct)||00:00:36||00:04:00||04:36||0.21|
|Note : Call duration times for the Carers Allowance Unit Contact Centre and Disability Living Allowance/Attendance Allowance Helpline are not available because these units do not record this information. We can, however, provide the Average Call Handling Time. Source: Department for Work and Pensions Operational Management Information System (OPMIS)|
The full list of telephone provider call charges has been placed in the Library.