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.

What to do if you can't get through

Some of our members have successfully got their MP's office involved when they have been unable to contact the DWP themselves. If you do try this, please let us know how it goes by leaving a comment.  There's more details here.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Diane · 2 months ago
    To try and get through to ESA is a joke. It rings for approximately 30 seconds and then rings engaged. We've tried every number advertised but it's the same scenario. What else can we do. ESA hasn't  gone in and can't get through. Can't visit a job centre as we're disabled. 
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    N CHADWICK · 2 months ago
    spent 2 hours and 46 mins waiting to get through to ESA on 08001690310 at 15.00hrs on the 11 03 24 , its really appalling service, they say they will fine us if we dont declare a change, but how are you suppose to contact them, there is no email address for them, i have sent registered letters in the past and never have had a reply, the system needs a total makeover .
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    Jen · 2 months ago
    Today I flat out can't get through to old style ESA on the nunber i usually use. I get an automated message that just says 'we will contact you if we need to know more' and it hangs up. But that's not what I'm calling for, I need to speak about something else regarding my claim and there's no way if it just hangs up on you. No options, nothing. What on earth?
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    Pete · 3 months ago
    First call on 0800 169 0310, waiting for over an hour and no answer. Drove to Job Centre to let them know they have someone else's bank account details on my form. They cant help apparently as they have no access to the central system which seems hard to believe. and I just need to keep calling the same number. At home now and still waiting for an answer. 1 Hour and 15 minutes later still no answer so I will just have to sit on line and wait. Absolutely appalling and to top it all Matt Hancock is my local MP to complain to. :(
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    Maria · 3 months ago
    0800 169 0310 for ESA - not sure how else to let them know about an upcoming rent increase and see about volunteering. I think I was waiting at least an hour or two the one time I got through before.

    Would be useful to have an online form like with UC to declare changes, or a call back option or appointment call time or just something else!

    If I could volunteer without having to declare I probably would have done it already, as all I want to do is volunteer to build up my strength at my own pace until I know I can do a couple of half days of work or a full day and try to return to it. It's crazy that there's not a system in place to help people get off benefits and back to work. 
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    Russ · 3 months ago
    Waiting for hours today on 2 mobiles trying to speak to someone on 0800 169 0310
    No-one taking the call
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    Helen Oleary · 3 months ago
    I’ve called 7 numbers for help about deductions,,,,, I’m actually sitting here crying how do I get through to a human ,, I’m no good with internet I’ve got mental health 
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    April McManus · 3 months ago
    I made a claim for PIP over three weeks ago and still haven't received the form I'm supposed to fill out. Trying to call them today and I waited 40 minutes on hold on the enquiries line only to be transferred to the new claims line. I explained the situation and they told me to call the enquiries line and told me to pick options 1, 2, 6. I tried that, and after option 2 I got hung up on.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jess · 3 months ago
    This whole system is set up against those of us with issues who need help. It's ablist. We should all be suing for emotional distress, it physically hurts to hold the telephone up for too long! Disgraceful needs immediate change and action to improve. 
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    Miss fed up · 3 months ago
    I have wait 1 half hours on the esa fone line 08001690310 without anyone answering me . Monday I waited nearly 2 hours to be told they couldn’t answer my question but someone would call me back the next day which did not happen . The week before it was over an hour and none answered me . How do I get to speak to anyone at this department? 
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    Ree · 3 months ago
    Been on the phone for over an hour on the 08001690310 for advice as I've been give conflicting info on my latest letter. Getting very very frustrated now
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ajax · 3 months ago
    I've listened to the answering service (on the 0310 number) music and messages for 30 minutes,  now it's silent but the call is still running... dare I hang up, or is there a chance someone will answer?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Gary S · 3 months ago
    The benefits main enquiry line keeps hanging up on me and i havent been paid. This is ridiculous.  When im £200 overdrawn and rent meant to be coming out this is really aggravating 
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    Kirsty · 3 months ago
    I can't get through to Access to Work. Tried two different numbers. Both of them, go through options and then regardless of which option I select, it hangs up on me. My case worker told me to email but I emailed ages ago and haven't heard back. I've had a grant agreement of what they will pay for but my case worker told me I have to pay and then claim back. I can't afford to buy these things so just want to speak to someone!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Phil Wall · 4 months ago
    My husband and I have been trying since November on 0800 169 0310 to see if he is eligible for new ESA as he is self employed and paid up NI contributions, filled in questionnaire, no call just got letter yesterday saying he wasn't eligible. No explanation as to why, no medical assessment?
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    Mr John Power · 4 months ago
    Need to contact the dwp for hardship payment as I've been sanctioned and I don't have the contact number to claim hardship payments
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    Sarah · 4 months ago
    Trying to phone DLA with updated details about my sons condition. Called on 0800 121 4600. Currently been on hold for one hour and 40 minutes. I was cut off earlier after 57 minutes, this is my second go. If i dont update them im worried they will stop his DLA and i use it for his school transport
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Lou · 4 months ago
    I have been waiting 3 hours and still waiting , I will have my pip stopped if no one answers . I’ve not received the review form and need to fill it asap ! Please someone help 
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    Ian · 5 months ago
    I get cut off no more than 30 seconds into the introductory spiel & that’s on both 0800 numbers I’ve got, …0310 & 7898! I’ve received £10 pension this month! 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Alison C · 5 months ago
    Been trying to get through to ESA for over a week now spending anything up to 4 hours a day trying them at all different times and still had no luck. I’m severely disabled and need to be able to contact these people by telephone, why are there no alternative numbers. Makes me laugh you miss one call from the DWP and your sanctioned immediately, I’m trying to do a change in circumstances which is stated on the dep website that if you don’t do this you can obtain a huge fine however I can’t get through to anyone this is very frustrating 

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