Almost half a million callers to the PIP helpline in the month of April were deliberately disconnected by the DWP before they could even wait in a queue, a freedom of information request by Benefits and Work has revealed.  The proportion of calls cut-off before entering the queue is now greater than the proportion who even get to wait for an hour or more before giving up or getting disconnected.

In May, we asked the DWP to tell us  the number of calls made to the PIP Enquiry Line on 0800 121 4433 and the number of these which were blocked, for the last three months for which the statistics are available.

The DWP provided us with the following statistics:

February
Calls put in queue 415,552
Calls blocked 34,860

March
Calls put in queue  488,965
Calls blocked 306,865

April
Calls put in queue 388,265
Calls blocked 494,044

The DWP went on to argue that:

“Personal Independence Payment has experienced unprecedented levels of new claims from customers in recent months and as a result we have seen increased call traffic.

 “The blocked call figures relate to the enquiry line only and does not impact customers being able to make new claims or raise a dispute.

 “We are currently in the process of recruitment [sic] additional resource into telephony so that we can increase the number of calls answered and prevent blocked calls. Although blocked calls relate

to customers unable to join the queue this figure is significantly increased by customers dialling the number multiple times.”

However, whilst claims are at record levels as the DWP says, the number of new claims in the quarter to April 2023 is only up by 20% on the number of new claims in the quarter to April 2022. 

This stops well short of being “unprecedented”.

Moreover, whatever the explanation for the increase in calls, it seems that the DWP put 100,000 fewer callers in the queue in April than they did in March.  This suggests that the department is dealing with fewer callers as volumes increase, not more.

The worry is that the DWP is now in a downward spiral of increasingly awful customer service. 

Forms are not being sent out, letters are not being acknowledged, changes of address or bank details are not being recorded and claimants are being left many months with the horrible uncertainty of not knowing the result of their award review.   All this results in a continual increase in the number of desperate callers to the PIP helpline.  And amongst them all are the claimants whose health conditions have changed, but who cannot pass on that information or receive the increased award they may be entitled to. 

And what these statistics don’t tell us, but we will now attempt to discover, is how many of the callers in the queue ever get answered.

Readers only need to look at some of the many hundreds of comments on our PIP Enquiry Line page to realise the intense distress that this utter failure of service by the DWP is causing to people who simply want to ensure that they meet their responsibilities as claimants.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Mark · 1 months ago
    Absolutely disgusting service to those that have paid into the system for over 30 years TAX and VAT, and who now have health issues because of working with hazardous substances.
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    Simon · 1 months ago
    I have been trying to phone for over a week now and I dont even get to the queue. I hear a disconnected tone after passing the automated options. Very frustrating!
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    Tracy · 1 months ago
    I’ve been trying to get through for god knows how long now.
    I get disconnected straight away , or go into the Q to get disconnected ..
    I’m 
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    Tia · 1 months ago
    Have been trying to get thru for a week now...multiple times call gas been disconcted before making it into the queue..  have got thru to que and as of yet 5th day of queuing for over 2 hrs call has not been answered!.. Have been waiting for review outcome..have been waiting over 6 months and heard nothing!!.. The whole system is ridiculous and so cruel...people that use this service allready have health issues both mental and physical and this service causes extra stress and anxiety....Totally disgusting!!
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    Karen · 1 months ago
    Tried yesterday 57 mins then it came
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    Rinki · 1 months ago
    I have trying to call 0800 121 4433, several times however the call gets disconnected automatically while waiting to speak to someone. I have tried over 10 times in last two days. 
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    Mark Stirling · 1 months ago
    Getting cut off after calling and it's still happening. This is criminal that it hasn't been resolved yet. They should just give everyone who has applied pip. Get rid of the backlog.
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    Rochann Buxcey · 1 months ago
    I’m trying to report a change of circumstance 3 days 10 calls per day not one got on the queue. Today is 9/04/24
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Andrew · 1 months ago
    Been trying to get through for days to simply update my address, cannot get through 
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    Delilah Thompson · 1 months ago
    So far have called 8 times.   After going through all the options it just cuts off......I will persevere!
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    Jason · 1 months ago
    It appears to be an ongoing issue - I sent my review form back in November as requested, followed up with a call where it was confirmed as being received. I have not heard anything so have tried calling today and have been cut off three times
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sarah · 1 months ago
    I have been trying to speak to someone to get an extension on the pip form. I have called all of the numbers but no matter how long I wait ...up to 40 mins I end up being cut off disconnected intentionally 
    Just today I have called 12 timed to get through to the robot asking me my dob and telephone number... I think im getting somewhere and then you get an American busy dial tone and once again I'm cut off... its appalling..
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    JACQUE · 1 months ago
    I phoned to get a replacement certificate to renew my Blue Badge and was cut off at the end of the automated system. Really frustrating and annoying. 
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    Taysha · 4 months ago
    I have phoned 6 times over the past 2 weeks held on for 30 mins or more each time I have been disconnected it seems deliberate...really bad 
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    Ana · 4 months ago
    I was requesting a second PIP form and deadline updated.Which was fine until this point. But then I receive a phone message saying my case is under review with a health professional. Which was impossible because i was not yet sending back the form. Which let me think they forgot to update the deadline even on new form was written down, or maybe they keep a PIP request for each form. Which is a complete waste of time from their time to review even cases where are no documents sent from sick person side. Trying to call, after 10 sec im disconnected, i dont reach even that queue for waiting. Im completely confused  and dont know what to do more , as they dont have a email. I sent a text, no answer back yet. I feel PIP office doesnt exists for people. 
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    Kay jay · 7 months ago
    Been asked to send i.d for my pip claim, haven't got any as been homeless,tried twice today to get hold of them,been cut off both times,very frustrating 
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    Danny · 7 months ago
    I have had my claim since march of this year, all I’ve had is a txt saying my claim has been granted. I still haven’t had the letter that tells you how they came to their decision and breaks down your claim, but trying to get through to the helpline is impossible. I’m getting cut off after about 10 seconds of making the call. What are we supposed to do!
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    Janet Lloyd · 8 months ago
    All I need is a change of circumstances form. I have been pit on hold for 20 mins at a time before being cut off before speaking to anyone. It's so frustrating. As if being ill isn't enough we have to deal with this incompetence every time we need to contact the PIP "HELPLINE"
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    Andrew · 9 months ago
    This is still going on ,I got cut off twice after 20 minutes each time ,I only want a pip form ,in this day and age you think it could be done online 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      JACQUE · 1 months ago
      @Andrew I agree lots of the requests could be automated. It would save them time and us distress. 
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    Lynn M · 9 months ago
    Well that was a wasted bit of time trying to get a PIP form. Twice on call waiting just under 30 minutes. First call, cut me off. Second just went to radio silence though still on hold. Recovering from serious brain injuries as it is without this additional headache!
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