The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has made nearly £120,000 in just five months from “rip-off” helplines, the Daily Mirror has reported today (15 September 2014).
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, is facing mounting pressure to explain why his department is raking in thousands of pounds from some of Britain’s poorest citizens.
Despite pledges to stop using expensive 41p a minute 0845 numbers, the DWP still uses the prefix for a number of its phone lines, including pensions advice and a redundancy payment helpline.
The Daily Mirror reports that the DWP makes 0.3p from every phone call they receive to its 0845 helplines. This money is used to help fund other helplines.
Labour MP Roger Godsiff has discovered that Iain Duncan Smith’s department made £117,000 from callers “hammered by unnecessary phone call costs” in just five months.
Mr Godsiff told the Daily Mirror:
“People are being hammered by unnecessary phone call costs. This is all part of IDS’s relentless pursuit of reducing the benefits bill – irrespective of the devastating impact on people’s lives.”
David Hickson from the Fair Telecoms Campaign added: “The continuing use of expensive numbers by Government and businesses is a rip-off.”
A spokesperson for the DWP said:
“We have negotiated a rebate from our phone line providers, generating a better deal for the taxpayer.
“We make no money from call charges and this rebate does not mean extra charges for claimants.”
Find out more: Daily Mirror