Many Benefits and Work readers know only too well the misery of spending day after day trying to get through to the DWP on the phone without success.
There’s more than enough evidence of this in the hundreds of comments below our articles on the subject:
Earlier this month, one of our members contacted us in despair at her inability to communicate with the DWP .
Jane, (not her real name) a full-time carer had moved house and had tried for three solid months to phone the PIP enquiry line in order to inform them of their change of address. As she put it, this was something DWP letters told them they must not fail to do ‘on pain of imprisonment’.
Jane made numerous attempts to get through on different days and at different times but without success. She kept a record of all these attempts. She then sent a registered letter but received no response.
Jane was very concerned not only that she might be accused of failing to declare a change of circumstances, but also that any DWP mail sent to her old address would not be forwarded and their claim might be stopped.
We suggested to Jane that she contact her MP, pointing out just how unfair and distressing such treatment is and would they please contact the DWP themselves as Jane was unable to.
We are quite certain that MPs have their own hotline for the DWP and we know that contacts from MPs are generally treated seriously by the department.
Jane’s MP’s constituency office responded the same day, issuing her with a case number.
A week later, we got an email from Jane saying:
“I’m in shock ! The DWP complaints team have just got back to me and it’s all sorted now. I can’t tell you what a relief that is. I know there’s millions of people struggling with the system at the moment so I really appreciate this, and thank you for the suggestion. Good luck with your work, it’s so necessary.”
It really shouldn’t be so difficult to contact the DWP, especially when you there is a legal requirement for you to do so.
So, we’re suggesting that members consider following Jane’s example. Keep records of your attempts to contact the DWP and, after you’ve made reasonable attempts to do so, ask your MP’s office to do it for you.
We know that most constituency offices are very busy places and that they deal with a vast range of problems on behalf of people who are often close to despair.
But we think that the growing impossibility of contacting the DWP not only causes enormous stress and fear, but almost certainly leads to some people losing their benefits and possibly being threatened with legal action.
It’s not an issue that is the subject of campaigns by national charities and the DWP can no doubt produce highly dubious statistics showing how quickly most calls are answered.
So, it really is time that MPs were made aware of how big a problem this has become and that they need to do something about it.
So, if you can’t get through to the DWP, instead of it just being your problem, share it with your MP.
You can find out who your MP is here.
You can then either contact them via the form on the website or Google them to find their constituency office.
We know not all MPs offices will be helpful, so we’d really like to hear from you if you try, or have tried in the past, to get support from your MP in relation to benefits.
Let us know in the comments below.