Which DWP number are you struggling to get through on?  Benefits and Work wants to find out more about which numbers have the longest wait times and also whether things improve with the introduction of ‘almost human’ AI chatbots answering calls.

Back in February, the DWP announced it was introducing Conversational Platform software to answer telephone calls.  The DWP described the voices claimants would hear as ‘almost human’.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the following month the DWP announced that it was closing 41 offices and that some staff would be redeployed to different roles.  The jobs affected are ‘back of house’ such as staff who answer telephones.

It may well be the case that wait times fall as a result of the introduction of AI.  But it’s also possible that the actual responses callers get will be of little help because they are simply talking to sophisticated FAQ software which can only give pre-programmed responses and can’t deal with follow-up questions.

As a first step we need to find out which are the numbers that you struggle with most and is it solely that no-one answers or do you get unhelpful responses, get cut-off before you’ve finished, get offers to call you back that never happen or get answers that are just plain wrong.

And do you know if you are talking to a human?

Some of the most likely suspects are:

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

PIP enquiry line

Telephone: 0800 121 4433

Jobcentre Plus for ESA change of circumstances

Telephone: 0800 169 0310

But there may be other numbers related to the benefits we deal with that are a problem for you.    Please let us know your experiences in the comments section below.

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    Jools · 4 months ago
    ESA line is appalling. I made over 17 calls last year. Sat in hold queues for nearly an hour each time to then speak to people who didn't have the knowledge or inclination to help. Promised 4 call backs. Eventually after a complaint and support from my mp everything was resolved.....or so I thought.
    I'm now up to 6 phone calls. 2 promised call backs and now a further 3rd for tomorrow. I won't hold my breath.
    The dwp need more staff not less on the phones. It'll be a disaster! 
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    Bernard · 4 months ago
    Hi received my payment today 11 April , don’t get payment usually till 14 of every month, I wonder why I got my payment today 11th ? Lol
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    Christine · 4 months ago
    Have tried several times to report a Change of Circumstance to DLA. Automated message after 20 minute plus wait. With best times to call back then when trying at that time get an automated message after longer wait. Very distressing.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Mand · 4 months ago
    I had to make five attempts in one day to give details for pip.  Each time I was cut off before finishining. On one occasion the phone was answered and automatically hung up. I managed to complete it after just over two hours( Very distressing). When I finally got a letter from them, they had got  my name wrong and put me down as power of attorney. I had to call again to explain their error and was waiting for 45 minutes before someone answered the phone. Spoke to two people who still got my name wrong and am still waiting just for the forms to arrive. I started the application in the middle of march.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Shrimp · 4 months ago
    over the course of about 4 days I spent nearly 10 hours waiting to get through to PIP, eventually after hour and half got answered, then had to ring again 2 weeks later and waited 45 minutes
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Bud · 4 months ago
    I waited just 20 minutes a few days ago to get through to PIP, is this a record of the shortest time?  Although I had to try twice before I got through as it kept cutting me off.
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    steven · 4 months ago
    takes about 40 + mins to get phone answered whenever i call the esa number
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Garry · 4 months ago
    PIP - got through eventually, on hold for almost half an hour, then told someone would ring back, 3 weeks later, no on phoned back, and now I'm struggling to get through, and when I do what is said does not make any sense
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Deb · 4 months ago
    PIP 50 minutes this week when they stopped my payments because they said they hadn’t received my renewal form despite confirming 2 weeks previously that they had. I sent it recorded delivery. They apologised for the error.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Chris · 4 months ago
    Yeah the waiting time on the phone is diabolical 50mins to 2hrs i rang up the other week to ask how my SDP backpayment was goin on i got through after an hour and 8 mins to be cut off its so stressful waiting ages on the phone for some person to cut you off joke
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    RIA · 4 months ago
    PIP - tried ringing twice. Kept ringing and ringing, both times for 45 mins plus. I gave up in the end. I think it would be quicker to email them. 
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    Audrey · 4 months ago
    On hold for 48 minutes when trying to contact the ESA with a query. 
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    Margaret · 4 months ago
    Pip waited 55 minutes today 
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    Elaine · 4 months ago
    55 minutes to the PIP helpline - on every occasion and without exception. And only to seek extensions for my clients for the return of renewal forms. I needed extensions for 2 clients when I called this week.  officer was really helpful, advised that he couldn't go into 2 different accounts in the same call, but did call me straight back to arrange the revised date for the second client. 68 minutes altogether.  I try to avoid calling them on Mondays, Friday afternoons, anything during lunch times or after 3pm!!
    I remember the days we used to have dedicated phone numbers for Advisers :-( 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Karen Smith · 4 months ago
    I am just off the phone to personal independence payment I had to wait 90 minutes for an answer not acceptable really especially with mental health issues.
    Now I'm looking to report a child benefit change looked in the website just says my benefit will stop but I number to report I hope this is ok and I'm not going to get into trouble for not reporting worrying department of work and pensions terrible.
    Thankfully I get some money which I am grateful for but trying to speak with someone far too difficult and Unessesary stress.
    Regards 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Aoife · 4 months ago
    I called the PIP enquiry line three times in the last few weeks, inputted all my information and was then on hold for between 20 mins and 30 mins before the line just went dead each time. It was basically impossible to get through and incredibly frustrating to wait all that time only for the line to go dead. Grrr! 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Rebecca · 4 months ago
    I've called the PIP enquiry line several times since December to ask for more time to complete my renewal form. It has taken me on average 40 minutes to get through each time. I spoke to a human each time I got through and they were happy to give me more time each time I asked. I think that they were ok with me taking so long to complete my renewal form because a couple of the people who answered the phone told me that they had a backlog of forms to get through and issues with the post getting there on time so giving me more time made made no difference to the DWP and perhaps even helped them out. I don't like the idea of talking to bots on the phone as humans can use their discretion while bots have a script and I get anxious using the phone so that would make my anxiety worse.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    AnneH · 4 months ago
    The last couple of times I have contacted DWP re ESA I have had to wait over an hour to speak to someone. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    fiona McConnell · 4 months ago
    I’ve found the PiP enquiry line has to be the worst one for me. Most recent call approximately 58 mins to be answered. Good job I had time on my hands!!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    T · 4 months ago
    8 calls to 08001690310 from final days of Jan to 3rd week march. Always before 11am. Average call duration 52 mins, 45 of which was on hold. 

    Even calls before 0830 have always had at least 32mins on hold.

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