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.
    Audrey · 2 years ago
    On hold for 48 minutes when trying to contact the ESA with a query. 
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    Margaret · 2 years ago
    Pip waited 55 minutes today 
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    Elaine · 2 years 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 :-( 
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    Karen Smith · 2 years 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 
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    Aoife · 2 years 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! 
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    Rebecca · 2 years 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 · 2 years ago
    The last couple of times I have contacted DWP re ESA I have had to wait over an hour to speak to someone. 
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    fiona McConnell · 2 years 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 · 2 years 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.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Dee · 2 years ago
    Hi Derek, If you have already been awarded PIP in the past, then yes, it will run on into your retirement. Best to give them a call though if you can get through. The robotic voice asks for some details and then tells you to hold on...I was waiting for nearly one hour and my phone battery died. Good Luck
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    Janice P · 2 years ago
    PIP chase up claim line as I have 3 cases now where they've written to the claimant advising a decision will be made in 12 weeks and each one is now 22 weeks in with no decision. Been on hold for an average of 50 minutes with no reply. 
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    C Davies · 2 years ago
    In my experience trying to speak to someone on the ESA helpline is the worst I have encountered. Every time I’ve had to phone, I am on hold for at least 45 minutes and when I finally get through I get cut off and have to start all over again. I have been known to spend 3 hours trying to get through in total. I have also been given incorrect information many times when I do finally get through.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Derek Simpson · 2 years ago
    Can anyone tell me if PIP continues when you reach pension age? I was 66 in January this year , l have been waiting since August 2021 for my review! Due to run out June this year.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    N hill · 2 years ago
    I waited 1hr15mins to contact pip then got cut off not impressed. If u owed them any money they would soon be on phone to u
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Martin · 2 years ago
    Pip - took 56mins to answer and then cut me off! 
    Had another 28mins wait until they answered 
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    Sharron Ashcroft · 2 years ago
    I find calling about ESA is so hard unless you call at 8am in the morning and even then sometimes I'm waiting over 20 minutes and some of the people I speak to can be very rude , unhelpful and unfriendly and make me feel like I'm being a nuisance but some are ok and are nice and friendly but not many. I certainly dont fancy talking to a robot, it's bad enough talking into answer machines 
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    Diane · 2 years ago
    I find most numbers hard to get through. Pension and income support being the worst.However, if I ring dead on 8am I get through very quickly, and usually find the people are more friendly and helpful at that time. If you ring after 12, expect to be on phone for at least an hour, sometimes more and staff very abrupt.
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