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Departmental Telephone Services

Volume 506: debated on Tuesday 2 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate she has made of the proportion of benefit and pension claimants calling her Department's telephone inquiry lines from mobile telephones who are not to be charged for the cost of the call; and if she will make a statement. (317378)

The Department's policy is that all calls to claim the state pension, jobseekers’ allowance, employment support allowance as well as to ask for emergency payments or crisis loans, should be free. These 0800 numbers are already free from land lines, which around 70 per cent. of our callers use. The recent agreement with the five biggest UK mobile providers means that calls from their mobile phone networks to these specific 0800 numbers will now be free to their customers as well.

The Department uses 0845 telephone numbers where its customers call for other reasons, and these are calls that typically that take less time to resolve. The charges that apply to these calls will be set by the customer's telephone or mobile operator.

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.