21 January 2010

Woman holding mobile phoneCalls from most mobiles to make initial claims for major benefits will be free for the next two years following an agreement between the DWP and major phone operators.

The following phone operators agreed to provide 0800 calls free of charge from 18th January:

Tesco Mobile

Two other operators:

Virgin Mobile

will provide free calls from 25th January.

Calls to make claims for the following benefits will be covered:

Jobseeker’s Allowance,
State Pension,
Pension Credit
Employment and Support Allowance

However, many follow-up calls for benefits are made to 0845 numbers, which are not covered by the scheme.  Claimants can be kept on hold on these numbers for long periods and run-up very considerable bills. Unfortunately, whilst initial claims are closely monitored and often the subject of parliamentary questions, calls relating to ongoing claims are not subjected to such close scrutiny and so claimants can still be stung with impunity.



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