Skip to main content

Social Security Benefits: Telephone Services

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) on what date the decision was made to charge clients for telephone calls to the 0845 number for the benefits delivery centre at St. Austell; and for what reason the decision was made; (227365)

(2) what revenue Jobcentre Plus has received from the operation of the 0845 number of the benefits delivery centre at St. Austell in each of the last three years; and how this revenue has been allocated.

A holding reply was sent on 16 October 2008.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking on what date the decision was made to charge clients for telephone calls to the 0845 number for the benefits delivery centre at St Austell; and for what reason the decision was made and what revenue Jobcentre Plus has received from the operation of the 0845 number of the benefits delivery centre at St Austell in each of the last three years; and how this revenue has been allocated. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

In line with other DWP Contact Centres, the decision was made to move to 0845 numbers as Benefit Delivery Centres (BDCs) rolled out nationally. St Austell BDC started using 0845 numbers on 19 March 2007.

Jobcentre Plus made a decision to use 0845 numbers as opposed to geographical prefix numbers as these numbers will, in the main, be cheaper than calling a national rate number. The 0845 prefix also enables us to provide better customer service by recording call statistics, providing a call queuing function and playing automated announcements providing customer information.

The revenue received from 0845 numbers across the whole of DWP ceased in December 2007. We did not keep a breakdown of the revenue by business. The rebate from BT amounted to £0.5m per annum across DWP, some 0.007% of our annual budget and was used by DWP to re-invest in services.