Claimants are waiting over half an hour, on average, for PIP and DLA helpline calls to be answered, DWP minister Tom Pursglove admitted in a written parliamentary answer last week. But the minister now needs to come clean about how many callers never get an answer at all, because they are deliberately disconnected using a practice the department refers to as ‘call-blocking’.

Labour MP Beth Winter asked about waiting times for calls last month.

The response from the minister for disabled people was that the average waiting times for the PIP, DLA and AA telephone enquiry lines for the month of March 2023 were:

PIP - 37 minutes

DLA - 33.5 minutes

DLA65+ - 6 minutes

AA – 2 minutes

Clearly average waiting times of over half an hour for PIP and DLA are absolutely unacceptable, although many people who contact us have waited much longer without getting an answer at all.

But Pursglove’s response hides much more than it reveals. Because we also need to know about the number and proportion of calls that don’t get answered.

This would include claimants who hang up after waiting often for an hour or more.

And, crucially, it would include callers who are being deliberately and repeatedly cut-off by the DWP.

Back in March of this year a parliamentary question was asked about waiting times for the DWP Future Pension Centre. Call volumes had increased ten-fold as people tried to check their national insurance contribution record before a deadline.

The answer revealed that in March 443,000 calls out of a total of 517,00 had been blocked by the DWP - almost nine in ten callers. The practice is known by the DWP as ‘call-blocking’ and means that the DWP does not allow the call to enter the call waiting queue because there are too many people in it already. Instead, the line simply gets cut-off.

This sounds very similar to what has been happening to many callers to the PIP helpline, who report being repeatedly cut-off:

“Received PiP review form but my partner who it relates to is unwell in bed for last 3 days. Time scale for return quite short. Rang to get extension today. Keep getting cut off. Must have tried 10 times.”

 “Been trying for Weeks to get through to change bank account details and it cuts off as soon as you go through all the automated talk. Three weeks ago got through the talk on the 'make a new claim' section only to hold for an hour and a half. I gave up without speaking to someone.”

 “Ridiculous wait times, been trying to phone for 4 days now and each time it either cuts me off during asking for my details, or there is an hour 30 wait time and it cuts off. Only need to ask for an extension to my date as the forms only just arrived giving me 7 working days to reply back. I can't even get an appointment with CAB in the next 2 weeks, let alone my doctors to request supporting documentation and they give 7 working days?”

 In his written answer, the minister’s explanation for the long waiting times was:

“We are currently experiencing higher than forecast call volumes to the PIP and DLA telephony enquiry lines. We have recruited additional staff onto our telephony teams and have on-going recruitment to further increase resources.”

But, without knowing how many staff are being recruited and how many staff are already in post it is impossible to tell whether the extra staff are likely to make any real difference.

So, it’s good news that MPs have begun raising the issue of DWP call handling with ministers, but there are a lot more questions that need to be asked.

Benefits and Work members might want to consider asking their MP if they would be willing to ask one of them.

Comments

Write comments...
or post as a guest
People in conversation:
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kate · 6 days ago
    On hold 1/2 hour to DLA answers and they can't hear me so cut me off.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sue · 19 days ago
    They are not going to be moving people from PIP to UC. It is those people on income-related ESA. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Lesley · 20 days ago
    Will the new rules moving people from pip to uc apply  to 69 year olds?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Lia Reid · 21 days ago
    When I do get through the line is really poor and drops in and out. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Nicola · 28 days ago
    Been cut off several times becoming stressful.
    I need to  spent time caring not on phone.
    I have been waiting 4 months to be paid 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Rebecc · 1 months ago
    Been trying to contact the DLA for the last 4 days. Every time I’ve managed to get through after a 60 minute the call is deliberately disconnected. This is know as call blocking and is a common practice with the DLA. If they are unable to keep up with call demands then create some kind of online portal as people don’t have hours on end to try and contact this establishment.  Dishonest and corrupt, no other explanation. Millions every year go unclaimed by individuals that don’t know they are eligible and the trusted establishment doesn’t notify all of them either. Like I said dishonest and corrupt!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Hugh Murphy · 1 months ago
    Been trying for over a week now yesterday 1 and a half hour on phone not connected 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    AB · 1 months ago
    I've been waiting for 1.5 hours and still no one has picked up the phone. It's a bit stupid now. It's taking up way too much of my day. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ian · 1 months ago
    I was on hold to ESA for over an 1 and 25 minutes only to get cut-off.  I find this totally disgusting and feel each time they do this to callers, an automatic payment of £10 is paid to the caller.  This might make them get there act together.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Rebecca · 1 months ago
      @Ian I agree, I’m sure this would lower the call disconnections by many!!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Amy · 1 months ago
    Currently on 1hr 47 mins for DLA… purely because I need a replacement of my son’s confirmation letter. Driving me insane, I hate dealing with these people 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Cindy · 1 months ago
    Called DWP, calls cut off 2 times. Called again, waiting over 1 hour and still waiting 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Piss takers · 1 months ago
    I've waited 1 hour 20 minutes and still counting maybe im the mug for waiting that long I think past 3pm there all go to sleep absolute disgusting not happy in your job quit simple as that there management is probably the same 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Samantha · 1 months ago
    Still waiting to speak with a human it’s now been 44 mins and still counting if is so bad employee more people stop being Di*ks about it Don’t think they understand or care how frustrating it is for people who don’t cope well with calls because they have mental health issues      

    shameful service 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Ian · 1 months ago
      @Samantha I totally agree.  My wife won’t talk on phones, so I do all the calls.  I have severe arthritis in my hands and sat holding the mobile for just under an hour and a half, only to get cut off.  Now my ears burning, my arms aching and my hands locked into the way I held the phone, plus really hurting me.  These departments should be classed as disabled unfriendly and fined like any other business.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ralph · 2 months ago
    Asked to call dwp re.esa today 4hour and 15mins and still waiting 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Chris · 2 months ago
    Called 0800 731 0469 to report a change of circumstances...still waiting after 45 minutes...useless department needs a red poker shoved somewhere. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Emma · 2 months ago
    Currently on hold today for over an hour, after attempting yesterday and failing. My son's disability claim can only include motor issues once he turned 5. I sent it off 4 months ago for update and not heard anything. Worried they have not got it at all or lost it, like they did for some of his previous forms. I have no faith in disability living allowance, its frustrating how no one has had an easy time with them. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jen · 2 months ago
    Waited 43 minutes this morning in the line before the call was disconnected without me being able to speak to a representative. I only called to request more time to return PIP review form, the pack only arrived yesterday and has to be returned within 7 days! 
    The DWP is utterly incompetent and should be replaced by the new incoming Labour government ASAP.
    The current government have launched an onslaught of neglect and harassment of disabled children and adults in the U.K. Horrendous.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jess Green · 2 months ago
    Currently 64 minutes waiting to report a change if circumstances to a dla claim. What an absolute joke this country is 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Rose · 2 months ago
    Call waiting times to esa still horrendous, called yesterday, 1 hour 22 mins later still no further forward, was told that he could do changes over the phone, even though the letter clearly stated I could ring them or fill the form in, it would of been quicker to of filled the form in and hand deliver it! A waste of my time ring, as I was in a queue to speak to an adviser for over an hour, to be told no can do!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Vicki · 2 months ago
    50mins so far today and still on hold. Managed to walk the dog while waiting. 

    Been trying to get through for 8 weeks now.  They've sent me a letter saying they are making changes based on what I've sent them but I've not sent them anything. 

    Stress caused by not answering calls and how many disabled people or carers are able to sit on hold for hours and listen to the absolutely dreadful hold music. It's giving me a migraine just having to hear it....

Free PIP, ESA & UC Updates!

Delivered Fortnightly

Over 110,000 claimants and professionals subscribe to the UK's leading source of benefits news.

 
iContact
We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.