Almost half a million callers to the PIP helpline in the month of April were deliberately disconnected by the DWP before they could even wait in a queue, a freedom of information request by Benefits and Work has revealed.  The proportion of calls cut-off before entering the queue is now greater than the proportion who even get to wait for an hour or more before giving up or getting disconnected.

In May, we asked the DWP to tell us  the number of calls made to the PIP Enquiry Line on 0800 121 4433 and the number of these which were blocked, for the last three months for which the statistics are available.

The DWP provided us with the following statistics:

February
Calls put in queue 415,552
Calls blocked 34,860

March
Calls put in queue  488,965
Calls blocked 306,865

April
Calls put in queue 388,265
Calls blocked 494,044

The DWP went on to argue that:

“Personal Independence Payment has experienced unprecedented levels of new claims from customers in recent months and as a result we have seen increased call traffic.

 “The blocked call figures relate to the enquiry line only and does not impact customers being able to make new claims or raise a dispute.

 “We are currently in the process of recruitment [sic] additional resource into telephony so that we can increase the number of calls answered and prevent blocked calls. Although blocked calls relate

to customers unable to join the queue this figure is significantly increased by customers dialling the number multiple times.”

However, whilst claims are at record levels as the DWP says, the number of new claims in the quarter to April 2023 is only up by 20% on the number of new claims in the quarter to April 2022. 

This stops well short of being “unprecedented”.

Moreover, whatever the explanation for the increase in calls, it seems that the DWP put 100,000 fewer callers in the queue in April than they did in March.  This suggests that the department is dealing with fewer callers as volumes increase, not more.

The worry is that the DWP is now in a downward spiral of increasingly awful customer service. 

Forms are not being sent out, letters are not being acknowledged, changes of address or bank details are not being recorded and claimants are being left many months with the horrible uncertainty of not knowing the result of their award review.   All this results in a continual increase in the number of desperate callers to the PIP helpline.  And amongst them all are the claimants whose health conditions have changed, but who cannot pass on that information or receive the increased award they may be entitled to. 

And what these statistics don’t tell us, but we will now attempt to discover, is how many of the callers in the queue ever get answered.

Readers only need to look at some of the many hundreds of comments on our PIP Enquiry Line page to realise the intense distress that this utter failure of service by the DWP is causing to people who simply want to ensure that they meet their responsibilities as claimants.

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    Taysha · 1 months ago
    I have phoned 6 times over the past 2 weeks held on for 30 mins or more each time I have been disconnected it seems deliberate...really bad 
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    Ana · 1 months ago
    I was requesting a second PIP form and deadline updated.Which was fine until this point. But then I receive a phone message saying my case is under review with a health professional. Which was impossible because i was not yet sending back the form. Which let me think they forgot to update the deadline even on new form was written down, or maybe they keep a PIP request for each form. Which is a complete waste of time from their time to review even cases where are no documents sent from sick person side. Trying to call, after 10 sec im disconnected, i dont reach even that queue for waiting. Im completely confused  and dont know what to do more , as they dont have a email. I sent a text, no answer back yet. I feel PIP office doesnt exists for people. 
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    Kay jay · 4 months ago
    Been asked to send i.d for my pip claim, haven't got any as been homeless,tried twice today to get hold of them,been cut off both times,very frustrating 
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    Danny · 5 months ago
    I have had my claim since march of this year, all I’ve had is a txt saying my claim has been granted. I still haven’t had the letter that tells you how they came to their decision and breaks down your claim, but trying to get through to the helpline is impossible. I’m getting cut off after about 10 seconds of making the call. What are we supposed to do!
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    Janet Lloyd · 5 months ago
    All I need is a change of circumstances form. I have been pit on hold for 20 mins at a time before being cut off before speaking to anyone. It's so frustrating. As if being ill isn't enough we have to deal with this incompetence every time we need to contact the PIP "HELPLINE"
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    Andrew · 6 months ago
    This is still going on ,I got cut off twice after 20 minutes each time ,I only want a pip form ,in this day and age you think it could be done online 
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    Lynn M · 6 months ago
    Well that was a wasted bit of time trying to get a PIP form. Twice on call waiting just under 30 minutes. First call, cut me off. Second just went to radio silence though still on hold. Recovering from serious brain injuries as it is without this additional headache!
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    Yvonne · 7 months ago
    I applied for pip in march 22. I got refused in august i then asked for a mandatory reconcideration and was still refused pip september22. I then applied for ADP in september 22, had my assessment in december 22. i was finally awarded ADP in june23 and it was the exact same medical conditions i had on both forms.
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    Jill Azzouzi · 7 months ago
    I sent my PIP renewal form in on 7th April. They just sent me a text 3 months later saying its nit been done and i may need to see a health professional. I have a lung tumour and life threatening biwel conditions. Im on oxygen and in a wheelchair. Im disgusted. 
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    Isla · 8 months ago
    Let's be very clear. The Scottish Gov twice asked for extensions of when they were supposed to introduce our new system, this looked like they were determined to get it right. They promised dignity and quick decisions. Shame on them that all they did was give PIP a new name. Called yesterday to be told it is not possible to estimate when a decision will finally be made. They couldn't care less about dignity and fairness, it's an absolute disgrace how much they've messed this up. Independent Scotland, no thanks, SNP Gov, hopefully not much longer. 70 minute wait to get through on the phone too. They are behaving exactly as their friends at DWP do. NO CHANGE AT ALL.
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    Leanne T · 8 months ago
    Tried today to get through twice from 15.55-16.52 got cut off! Twice! My PIP claim has ended and they’ve still paid me today on a day they normally don’t pay me! 
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    Mel Kelly Scotland · 8 months ago
    DWP no longer deals with new PIP claims for Scotland - has this been made obvious to everyone else in the UK - as this means the problem is even worse than it was last year and even worse than they claim when you factor this in
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    Susan e · 8 months ago
    Took me 2 wks trying to get a human to send out a pip form after doing the initial questionnaire with them. If I had not persisted it would never have progressed due to one question not being filled out- not by me, but the person who asked me the questions. Seems like a sly mechanism to reduce no of claims.

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    Dana · 8 months ago
    So Purposely disconnecting people it appears. 

    So how many calls are the call takers taking per day and actually sorting ? 

    How much are they getting paid to NOT actually do the job that they’re being paid for and just for disconnecting people? 

    Maybe they should only be paid per call that they sort, that would certainly resolve the issues. 

    People who are getting cut off and  fannied about by theM should get an extra stress payment for the upset. 
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    dm · 8 months ago
    i spoke to them - i asked them why i got zero ppoints in my telephone  assessment  when  i have hadd the pip dla etc for 33 . went through each question and said that was all wrong nearly each question  deserved  something-that will be your MR he said ok i said -still got nothing-except a £12,000 a year loss!
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    Alison Jane · 8 months ago
    I kept getting dropped after going through all the buttons. Their comment that it is because of people redialling is disingenuous, if our calls weren’t dropped, we wouldn’t be redialling!!
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    Graham Pearson · 8 months ago
    They have started doing it in Scotland. 4 times I got Cut off, I got answered after the 5th Time, 1 hr & 20mins later, 
    She then proceeded to go a check something, asked me to hold on? I told her I would probably get Cut Off, She said I will call you back if you do? 
    After 5 Mins, Yup!! Cut Off!! After 2 hrs She did call me back, 🙈
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    Amanda · 8 months ago
    Hi after being on the phone for almost an hour, my call was cut off, all I wanted was a update copy of my award and the points awarded to get a blue badge from my local Council they will only award a blue badge with a up to date PIP letter.  This is so frustrating and difficult to do, I have tried this twice, hopefully third time a charm.
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    Brian · 8 months ago
    My daughter been granted high rate of PIP from 20-22 but has not received the back dated money. She is unable to speak to anyone about it. Her calls get blocked after 40 minutes.
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    Maggie · 8 months ago
    Been waiting decision on PIP since July 2022.  Got a text in April saying they are assessing. Not a word or letter since! Not going to bother to try calling 
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