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Waiting times for employment and support allowance (ESA) enquiries have rocketed over the last five years, and may actually be much worse than the DWP admits. We would like to hear from Benefits and Work readers about their experiences of trying to get through to the DWP on the phone.

In a written parliamentary answer this week, the government revealed that waiting times for an answer to an ESA enquiry had risen from an average of 1 minute 25 seconds in 2013-2014 to an average of 13 minutes and one second in 2017-2018.

However, the time does not include time spent having to listen to messages before being placed in a queue or the waiting times of callers who eventually gave up. The first of these would clearly increase the waiting times and the second may well have done.

No details were given of the percentage of callers who abandoned their attempts after a lengthy wait or how long that wait was.

In relation to PIP, the wait times over the same period have increased from 2 minutes and 5 seconds to 4 minutes and 11 seconds.

The figures didn’t cover the universal credit helpline.

We’d like to hear from readers about their experience of trying to get through to the DWP on the phone. Not just how long you had to wait but also whether you actually got an answer to your query when you finally got through or whether you were simply placed on hold or even cut off, as some people have reported.

You can read the full figures on the parliament website.


#21 Graham 2019-10-02 17:00
Been on the phone listening to the haunting fiddle for 51 minutes so far..
#20 Sean 2019-05-07 18:46
Tried to get in touch with dwp to confirm I wished to claim Pip. First 3 calls was cut off after going through the various choose a number stages. Then on hold 43 minutes before hanging up. Tried later and was cut off after 1 hour and 7 minutes once it reached their closing time of 6pm.
I then tried an alternative number relating to dla that closed at 7.30pm. 1 hour 19minutes and then cut off as it was closing time.
-1 #19 lianna 2019-04-23 16:45
currently been on hold for over an hour. Its an emergency.
#18 jj 2019-03-08 18:21
Just called ESA helpline to report change of circumstances (existing claimants). Call started at 5.01 pm. Stayed on hold for an agent until 6.03 pm (as you'll know they close at 6). NO ANSWER! Yes it may be the last hour before the weekend, but waits of 45 mins are my average experience for the last few years now.
#17 Rosemary 2018-09-20 09:33
Recently moved, so needed to tell ESA my new address. Spent 20 mins waiting, being told I was 1st in the queue, then got cut off inexplicably. Then waited 45 mins, being told I was 1st in the queue, finally got answered.
#16 Whiskers 2018-09-19 19:42
Been around 45 minutes in my experience. Having to sort out my disabled daughters ESA. She was one of those wrongly transferred over from Incapacity Benefit to Contribution based ESA.
Totally the wrong information given on the first call, made me look a real idiot with the NHSBSA.
All sorted now and a nice backdated payout.
#15 Elena 2018-09-19 16:51
DWP are having a laugh when they say 13 mins and 1 second. I have the unfortunate case of having to contact them in 2016-2017 and again 2017-2018 several times in both years & always had to wait for a human voice for 45 minutes at best .
#14 lizt12 2018-09-19 16:23
I have phoned a number of times regarding PIP between April and June to ask for a copy of the assessors report and then subsequent subject access request. I was waiting anything from 15 minutes to 50 minutes to get through to someone.
#13 buddha*3 2018-09-19 15:47
For ESA, waiting times for me were between 30 and 50 minutes. I put it on speaker and do something else!
#12 Charlie Ovenden 2018-09-19 14:55
Not had to phone them in the last two or three months thankfully but in my experience I have never had to wait less than 20 minutes to get through.
#11 alison 2018-09-19 11:23
ive rang pip several times requesting fora copy of my assessment report ,, the average waiting times ive had is between 20.45 mins waiting until able to speakto a adviser ,, andthen after all that to be told it cannot be sent as DMmay need to refer back to it whilst making a decision , took me 4 weeks of ringing insisting a copy that they finaly agreed to postit out to me , ,scandalous as apparantly you can request it 7 to 10 days after assessment , ,8 weeks since dwp recieved the copy and still no decision made as yet , ,
#10 Walter12 2018-09-19 10:17
I had cause to telephone the DWP back in June to check that they had received my medical assessment form as the post office failed to get a signature when they delivered. On the first occasion I waited over 30 minutes for an answer, thank goodness it is now a free phone as previously it has cost me a fortune. Although my form was not yet up on the system I was assured that my ESA would not be stopped as I had telephoned. I am not sure if this put my mind at rest. I was asked to ring a few days later to check again. Again I was waiting for well over half an hour. My form had been uploaded to the system thank goodness. This all adds to the stress of having to complete another medical questionnaire and the wait to be called in for an assessment even though you have a chronic illness
#9 Sarah 2018-09-19 10:09
For esa I have found it is a minimum of 45 mins to an hr before anyone answers. For pip i have noticed it used to be within a couple of minutes but now 20-30 mins. I have very often given up while on hold as it takes so much time and stops me being able to carry out my caring duties!
#8 Alison 2018-09-19 09:17
I have called ESA help line several times - every time I've been hanging on for at least 40 minutes before anybody answered. Once answered the staff were helpful. I called UC a couple of times (though, thankfully, haven't had to go down that route) and that was worse - I did a whole hour supermarket shop whilst waiting on the phone - almost forgot what i had phoned for when they finally answered! LoL
+1 #7 Maggie 2018-09-17 20:03
Both my welfare advisor & GP are very reluctant to contact DWP on my behalf due to the 25 minutes on hold. GP tried 3 days in a row, being cut off after a 40 minute wait. Disgraceful waste of a professional's time. How is anyone going to help me cope with this punitive system?
+1 #6 phrank 2018-09-17 19:32
At the last count, I'd phoned the PIP helpline 16 times re my review.

However, I haven't counted for a while but estimate it must be about 20 now.

Each time is tound about the same waiting time: between 15 and 20 minutes.
+1 #5 Freda Benlamlih 2018-09-17 15:07
I called the number given and immediately got a message that it had changed, so had to start again. Then waited 14 minutes - but have to say once I got through I was given very helpful assistance and advice. .
+1 #4 zektor 2018-09-17 14:56
Many a time I've been cut off, even when my call was eventually answered, after clearing security details, I was asked would it be ok to be placed on hold for two minutes, then around 4 or 5 minutes later the line went dead, had to start at the beginning again and endure listening to Valvaldis 4 Seasons again, makes me wonder how much the DWP owe his estate in royalties !!
+1 #3 cbrad 2018-09-17 14:46
In august when I didn't get paid on my payday I phoned at different times of the day and gave up after 30 to 40 minutes each time.
It took 4 days of trying to get through and in the end the phone was answered after 50 minutes.
It's not just phones that aren't answered, it took dwp ESA 6 months to reply to letters I had sent by recorded delivery on a monthly basis.
Dwp couldn't care less about claimants.
+1 #2 FieldL2015 2018-09-17 13:33
I was once on the phone for over 30 minutes which i think its appalling

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