12th January, 2017
DWP has just confirmed its Universal Credit Freephone service has been available since 29th November 2017. You’ll, no doubt, recall the move was prompted by demands from claimants, their advisors, MPs etc. that the service should be made a free service as tenants were experiencing very high costs, partly due to the length of waiting times they were experiencing, until they spoke to a member of DWP’s staff.
Full details of the announcement can be found here:
The key Universal Credit Freephone numbers include:
- Universal Credit live service: 0800 328 9344
(this replaces 0345 600 0723)
- Universal Credit full service: 0800 328 5644
(this replaces 0345 600 4272)
Anyone calling the old numbers will hear a repeated message informing them of the change and the new number to call. They won’t be charged for listening to the pre-recorded message as long as they hang up before the call is terminated. DWP maintains the automated message will make it crystal clear about the need for the caller to end the call before they are cut off.
DWP has also confirmed Freephone numbers for other DWP benefits should be available by end of this year.
Whilst this move is welcome, it’s unlikely to have any immediate effect on the long waiting times currently being experienced by claimants and their advisors in their attempts to query awards and make complaints about the lack of responses to online journal queries/complaints.
However, the announced rollout slow-down, mentioned in my most recent bulletin http://universalcreditadvice.com/housing-associations/2017/11/universal-credit-budget-measures-explained seems to have put paid to any new UC claims being made in areas not yet delivering Full Service UC. The detail is still a bit sketchy, but it appears that in “Live Service” areas any newly unemployed/sick person, will, in the short term, be advised to claim, “legacy benefits” (i.e. JSA/ESA/TC & Housing Benefit) until their areas move to UCFS.
Whilst I can see the logic in DWP’s thinking, it’s difficult to reconcile this latest move with the notion of UC being introduced as a means of simplifying the benefits system. Every day that passes seems to add further layers of complexity – don’t you think?
If you require any further information on this or any other Universal Credit or Welfare reform topic, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07733 080 389.
UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd