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.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    daniel · 3 months ago
    1 hour 24 minutes so far , ttp most definately
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    Teresa · 6 months ago
    One hour and 20 minutes and still counting 
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    Kelly · 6 months ago
    3 back to back 30mins calls to be hung up on and currently on my 48 mins so in total...tooo long. Disgusting customer service 
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    John · 7 months ago
    50 minutes and counting
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    Mel · 7 months ago
    I'm currently on 1 hour, 51minutes and 16seconds. I think I've won. Lol
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    Jim · 9 months ago
    Have been trying to get through for over one  month, calls get to 59 minutes and I have to hang up or get charged, absolute disgrace . 
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    Vicki brierley · 10 months ago
    I’ve been on hold for 61 minutes just for an enquiry! It’s a joke! 
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    G wilkie · 10 months ago
    Livid 1 hour 12 mins still no blummin answer guve up in end call later.  They havnt paid me my esa today.
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    Linda · 10 months ago
    1 hour and 31 minutes yesterday to ESA 
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      Sez · 10 months ago
      @Linda Did you do what I did and Google wait times whilst on hold, in an effort to save your sanity?! 1 hr 35 and still waiting for ESA today. Getting stressed and need to go, but too committed to leave now... 
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    C.R · 10 months ago
    Currently been on phone to DWP  for my ESA query (payment not made to me today) for 1 hour 38 minutes, and still not spoken to anyone! 
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    H · 10 months ago
    I had an appointment with them at 9 o’clock this morning, it’s now 1 in the afternoon and I’m still waiting. This is via the online video link
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    Jackie · 10 months ago
    On hold now for 60 mins still no acknowledgement 😡
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    Hayley · 10 months ago
    FOR THOSE WONDERING ABOUT MISSED PAYMENTS:

    I have just spent an hour on hold ringing about my missed payment.  In my case, and possibly some of yours too, my account was on suspension because a declaration form was not signed.  I haven't received this and so asked for another one to be sent out to me.  If you have this, send it off asap. I hope this helps :-)
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    Sarah · 11 months ago
    1 hour 20 mins still not got through to esa I want to cry 
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      Sarah · 11 months ago
      @Sarah 2 hours and 14 mins and hopefully miss payment will be payed now but we'll have to wait and see. 
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    Tyler · 11 months ago
    I've been on hold to pip for over an hour. I had to give up.

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    Dave · 11 months ago
    14 hours over the last week waiting but no answer. Done quite deliberately to make legitimate claimants go away. An old trick used in many communist countries years ago. They make you wait so long playing a tune that is irritating and a repeated message every 20 seconds so eventually you go away and go online where you are unable to do the thing you called for unless it fits their boxes. UK Government has used this tactic with great success for many years now and have lengthened the waiting times even more which gets rid of more and more people.  The answer is to play them at their own game and instead send them letters. Not just one but at least a dozen covering each individual aspect you want them to deal with over and over again to different departments. That way they will look carefully and be forced to answer as you hold the evidence of posting with your copies. Always tell them you have kept a copy as proof. Waste as much of their time as you can same as they waste yours and they might realise that answering a short call swiftly is faster and better than dealing with and processing millions of letters.
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    Sandra · 11 months ago
    Spent 1 hour 5 mins yesterday gave up.. today as we speak 41 minutes.. gonna give up again.. absolutely ridiculous having to wait this long
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    Mo · 11 months ago
    Ive been on the phone to esa for 2 hours 
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    Kay · 1 years ago
    On hold to esa and have been for over a hour and still not getting throu this is bad maybe if they communicate with people by updated letters people wouldn't need to call and be left wasting half a day on hold 
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    Cmassie · 1 years ago
    Currently waiting on esa helpline 1hour 26 minutes and counting 
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