photo credit: Call Centre via photopin (license)

Millions of Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable people are being “fleeced” by rip-off 0845 helplines, it has been reported today.

According to a report by the Daily Mirror, figures uncovered by Labour MP Frank Field show than pensioners, carers and benefit claimants are still being charged for higher rate calls, despite promises from the government two years ago that it would phase out 0845 helpline numbers.

Since 2012, the Pension Service has received around 12 million 0845 prefix calls, including 2.5 million over the last year.

2.9 million 0845 calls were made to the Carer’s Allowance helpline, while more than 530,000 people called for advice about Winter Fuel Payments and 360,439 higher rate calls were made about Bereavement Benefits.

0845 calls can cost anywhere from between 1p and 12p a minute from a landline and from 5p to 40p if calling from a mobile phone.

Callers spent a combined total of £56 million from using 0845 helplines in 2012 alone.

Frank Field said: “At the very point in their lives when millions of people are most in need, they are being fleeced by the Government and the phone companies.

“Ministers promised over a year ago that these rip-off lines would be scrapped. Might they now sanction such a move as quickly as they sanction claimants?”

The Cabinet Office issued guidance in 2013, stating it was “inappropriate” for “vulnerable and low-income groups” to pay “substantial charges for accessing core public services”.

Two years later the Department for Work and Pensions is still “in the process of replacing all its 0845 number prefixes in use for its national helplines”.

A DWP spokesperson added: “We introduced 0345 numbers for DWP national helpline service numbers – this is alongside an 0845 option, which can currently be cheaper for some dependent on their telephony provider.”


  1. Use 0333 5432111 before your 0845 number it works and it really works, Giffgaff mobile also allows free calls to some other premium numbers.

  2. Where have they been for the last FIVE YEARS? This was one of the FIRST thing the Conservatives did in 2010, along side the scrapping of Crisis loans etc.

    IDS, and the mandation regime instigated by the DWP COMPELS claimants to use 0845 numbers for everything, and systematically removed all the phones (and job points) from the centres. Effectively an extra levy they are mandated to use out of the already pitiful amounts received. Then there’s the printing and stationary (to provide evidence they will disregard anyway…..) when they abuse WRA 2012 S17 anyway.

    • DWP introduced replacement 0345 numbers in March 2014.
      Check the list of numbers on the official website.

  3. Paying for the DWP mistakes. Yes they got me on this one two. Calling all over the country to try and get the DWP to rectify their mistake of notifying the HMRC that I received carers allowance and job seekers allowance along with having a full time job! Leaving aside the obvious question as to why I was not prosecuted for fraud, the DWP knew that I had not received these benefits but are unable to correct the false information they sent to HMRC! Instead they sent me two letters which I have to forward to HMRC in order to get back the tax I paid on the benefits I did not receive. I still await the tax rebate. I reckon the calls cost me a morning listening to Vivaldi and conversing with computers that only understand romainian plus about £15.

  4. Why do you think the government removed the free phones out of the Jobcentre back in 2011, because they wanted to rip off the benefit claimant by forcing them to use the number on their home phones or mobiles.

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