Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats said that the Universal Credit helpline should be free [Image: James Gourley/Rex/Shutterstock].

Fair play to Farron for raising this issue – albeit after the Trussell Trust and the Labour Party had raised the wider issue of DWP helplines generally.

It’s just a shame he didn’t lay the blame where it is due – on the Conservative Government that has allowed BT to make such a huge profit from people who are extremely poor.

The DWP has put out the same excuse as with other benefit helplines – that people can ask to be called back.

This Writer wonders how long the wait would be if they did.

BT has been accused of “shameless profiteering” after official figures indicated that the telecommunications giant has generated more than £1m from a phone line designed to help people struggling with the new universal credit system.

Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said it is wrong to charge some of the poorest people in Britain who are simply seeking advice about the new universal credit which integrates six benefits.

In a parliamentary written answer last week the employment minister Priti Patel said that 2.2m calls have been answered by universal credit agents manning an 0345 helpline. Farron estimates that this has generated a minimum of £1.49m for BT – and possibly as much as £6.6m – because Patel said in her written answer that each call lasts an average of 7mins 29 secs. Calls to 0345 numbers from landlines cost up to 12p a minute and up to 45p a minute from mobiles.

Farron told the Guardian: “Charging millions of pounds for some of the poorest people in the country to get advice on universal credit is shameless profiteering. The move to universal credit will prompt questions from people and the government should be able to offer advice and reassurance without taking even more away from those on the tightest budgets. Helplines like this should be free.”

Source: BT accused of ‘shameless profiteering’ over universal credit helpline | Society | The Guardian

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