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Departments: Telephone Services

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether all customer helplines operated by his Department are freephone numbers. (132996)

No.

Most DWP helplines use 0845 numbers. The cost of contacting 0845 numbers varies depending on the time the customer calls, the contract they have with their network provider, and whether calls are made from residential lines or mobile lines. BT advises that the most popular tariff used by residential lines is BT Customer Option 1 or 2. Under these schemes, the cost of peak time calls to 0845 numbers is 2.55 pence per minute.

Customers using mobile telephones are charged at their network provider’s tariff for 0845 calls and may incur a charge even when dialling an 0800 number depending on the contract they have with their network provider.

If a customer indicates that they are concerned about the cost of a call, a call back will always be offered.

A breakdown for the Department’s helplines and call rates is shown in the following table.

Helpline

Call rate

Jobcentre Plus Jobseeker Direct

0845 Local rate

Jobcentre Plus Employer Direct

0845 Local rate

Jobcentre Plus First Contact (making a claim)

0845 Local rate. Currently an 0845 number but this is being replaced by an 0800 number. All First Contact, Contact Centres will have moved to the 0800 number by the end of May 2007.

National Benefit Fraud Hotline

0800 Free to landline callers.

Disability Careers Service Helpline

0845 Local rate.

Benefit Enquiry Line

0800 Free to landline callers.

Child Support Agency National Helpline

0845 Local rate.

The Pension Service

All the following services are provided by different 0845 local rate telephone lines: General enquiries Change of circumstances Claims for State Pension Pension forecasts Winter fuel queries Welsh Language Line

Pension Credit Application Line

0800 Free to landline callers.

International Pension Centre

0191 standard rate number for those who live, or have previously lived overseas.

Debt Management

Debt Management does not operate a "helpline" as such but access to debt centres is via an 0845 local rate number.