Anger as DWP decides to remove public phones from Jobcentres

Robert Inman outside a jobcentre in Bolton

Robert Inman outside a jobcentre in Bolton

First published in News
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A CAMPAIGNER has launched an e-petition against a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decision to remove customer access phones from Jobcentres.

Robert Inman, aged 21, spent time as a jobseeker and said the phones — which could be used to call potential employers, to speak with the DWP directly or to contact other departments — were vital during his period of unemployment.

He added: “I currently work at Asda, but I was a jobseeker and I used those phones a lot.

“They were free phones, but a lot of the numbers for the jobcentres are 0845 numbers, which people on benefits can’t afford, so the free phones really did help people.”

The DWP said it was planning to “bring Jobcentres into the 21st century” by replacing phones in centres as well as Jobpoint machines, which can be used to browse for available jobs.

Instead there will be 6,000 new computers and Wi-Fi access.

A spokesman said: “This is part of a nationwide programme that sees greater levels of individual support to help claimants get back into employment.

“New computers and Wi-Fi access are being installed across Britain’s jobcentres to make sure claimants have the right help to get into work.”

But Mr Inman, from Halliwell, said this might not work for everyone.

He added: “The DWP has said it is part of modernisation, but for many people the phones were what they needed and, as yet, they haven’t been replaced.”

The DWP said more than 80 per cent of claims to Jobseeker’s Allowance are now made online and that as Universal Credit continues to be rolled out, more claimants will be interacting with the department over the internet.

To sign Mr Inman’s petition go to: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61184

Comments (8)

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6:16am Fri 14 Mar 14

oftbewildered2 says...

and what about the visually impaired or those with learning difficulties? How will they be able to benefit from 'using computers'? And will there be e-mail addresses for potential employers? And if you do e-mail them, will they reply straight away (if at all?). Anyway, Skype is a modern technology, so this could be used I suppose. I thought there was a drive to getting rid of the 0845 numbers for help desks (I know this was specifically for energy companies etc., but DWP comes under that umbrella, surely).
and what about the visually impaired or those with learning difficulties? How will they be able to benefit from 'using computers'? And will there be e-mail addresses for potential employers? And if you do e-mail them, will they reply straight away (if at all?). Anyway, Skype is a modern technology, so this could be used I suppose. I thought there was a drive to getting rid of the 0845 numbers for help desks (I know this was specifically for energy companies etc., but DWP comes under that umbrella, surely). oftbewildered2
  • Score: 41

8:44am Fri 14 Mar 14

Wolfie190 says...

I think they're even changing the numbers to a more expensive one too. They have targets to sanction the unemployed and now rip them off for phone calls.
I think they're even changing the numbers to a more expensive one too. They have targets to sanction the unemployed and now rip them off for phone calls. Wolfie190
  • Score: 39

9:42am Fri 14 Mar 14

cosmicma says...

a faceless voiceless DWP can you imagine ???
the mind boggles where this will lead
a faceless voiceless DWP can you imagine ??? the mind boggles where this will lead cosmicma
  • Score: 22

9:59am Fri 14 Mar 14

Tim Burr says...

Reduce the number of phones by all means but to remove them entirely is utter madness and grossly unfair.
Reduce the number of phones by all means but to remove them entirely is utter madness and grossly unfair. Tim Burr
  • Score: 24

10:30am Fri 14 Mar 14

Boltonresident2012 says...

No substitute for talking to a real human being in the end!
No substitute for talking to a real human being in the end! Boltonresident2012
  • Score: 21

11:20am Fri 14 Mar 14

Jim271 says...

Cannot understand this Governments attitude to jobseekers, I mean when they work they pay tax, if they lose their job the tax they paid in some of it is used to keep them going until they find another job.

Most people are unemployed less than 12 months but the press keep parading the jobseekers as parasites with programmes like Benefits Street.

Its Channel Four that are the real parasites.
Cannot understand this Governments attitude to jobseekers, I mean when they work they pay tax, if they lose their job the tax they paid in some of it is used to keep them going until they find another job. Most people are unemployed less than 12 months but the press keep parading the jobseekers as parasites with programmes like Benefits Street. Its Channel Four that are the real parasites. Jim271
  • Score: 30

12:29pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Ian_SE says...

DWP have today activated a central 0345 number for JobCentre Plus replacing 73 regional 0845 numbers. The old 0845 numbers announce details of the new 0345 number when called.

Many other DWP 0845 numbers are also announcing there is a new 0345 number running in parallel with the existing 0845 number.

If you have already decided 0845 numbers are too expensive to call, you'll not find out that a cheaper number is now in place because DWP have chosen to make no other announcements about the new numbers and their website contains no details of the changes. You have to call the expensive 0845 numbers before you're told the new 0345 number or to even know that there is a new number.

The in-call announcement suggests callers contact their phone provider to find out which one (0345 or 0845) is cheaper. The DWP announcements when calling the 0845 numbers suggest the new 0345 numbers are "alternatives". Cabinet Office guidance suggests 0345 numbers should be promoted as the primary numbers with 0845 retained for the small number of callers that have these calls at a discounted rate.

The 0845 numbers are of benefit to people on "BT Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekdays, people on "BT Evening and Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekday daytimes and people on Vodafone pay-as-you-go. Almost everyone else should be calling the new 0345 numbers. These count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and on mobiles. Calling the 0345 numbers can be up to 41p/min cheaper than calling the 0845 numbers.
DWP have today activated a central 0345 number for JobCentre Plus replacing 73 regional 0845 numbers. The old 0845 numbers announce details of the new 0345 number when called. Many other DWP 0845 numbers are also announcing there is a new 0345 number running in parallel with the existing 0845 number. If you have already decided 0845 numbers are too expensive to call, you'll not find out that a cheaper number is now in place because DWP have chosen to make no other announcements about the new numbers and their website contains no details of the changes. You have to call the expensive 0845 numbers before you're told the new 0345 number or to even know that there is a new number. The in-call announcement suggests callers contact their phone provider to find out which one (0345 or 0845) is cheaper. The DWP announcements when calling the 0845 numbers suggest the new 0345 numbers are "alternatives". Cabinet Office guidance suggests 0345 numbers should be promoted as the primary numbers with 0845 retained for the small number of callers that have these calls at a discounted rate. The 0845 numbers are of benefit to people on "BT Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekdays, people on "BT Evening and Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekday daytimes and people on Vodafone pay-as-you-go. Almost everyone else should be calling the new 0345 numbers. These count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and on mobiles. Calling the 0345 numbers can be up to 41p/min cheaper than calling the 0845 numbers. Ian_SE
  • Score: 7

1:07pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Ian_SE says...

DWP have today activated a central 0345 number for JobCentre Plus. This replaces 73 regional 0845 numbers. The old 0845 numbers announce details of the new 0345 number when called.

Many other DWP 0845 numbers are also announcing there are new 0345 numbers running in parallel with each of the existing 0845 numbers. CSA 0845 numbers have not yet changed.

If you have already decided 0845 numbers are too expensive to call, you'll not find out that a cheaper number is now in place because DWP have chosen to make no other announcements about the new numbers and their website contains no details of the changes. You have to call the expensive 0845 numbers before you're told the new 0345 number or to even know that there is a new number.

The in-call announcement, which is charged at 0845 rates, suggests callers contact their phone provider to find out which number (0345 or 0845) is cheaper. The DWP announcement when calling the 0845 numbers suggests the new 0345 numbers are "alternatives". Recent Cabinet Office guidance suggests 0345 numbers should be promoted as the "primary" numbers with 0845 retained for the benefit of the small number of callers that have their calls to 0845 numbers charged at a discounted rate.

The 0845 numbers are mainly of benefit to people on "BT Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekdays, people on "BT Evening and Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekday daytimes and people on Vodafone pay-as-you-go. Almost everyone else should be calling the new 0345 numbers. Calls to 0345 numbers count towards inclusive call allowances on landlines and on mobiles. Calling 0345 numbers can be up to 41p/min cheaper than calling 0845 numbers.

Ofcom made 03 numbers available in 2007. The Fair Telecoms Campaign pressed DWP in 2010 to change their numbers from 0845 to 0345 but the suggestions were rejected. After severe criticism of DWP and other government departments in a July 2013 National Audit Office report and at a Public Accounts Committee enquiry in September 2013, the Cabinet Office issued new guidance in December 2013 to all government departments. It suggested that 03 numbers be adopted as the default position.

DWP have now activated the new 0345 numbers. What's missing is the publicity about these changes. While people continue to call the 0845 numbers, DWP continues to impose a 2p/min "Telephone Tax" on those callers.
DWP have today activated a central 0345 number for JobCentre Plus. This replaces 73 regional 0845 numbers. The old 0845 numbers announce details of the new 0345 number when called. Many other DWP 0845 numbers are also announcing there are new 0345 numbers running in parallel with each of the existing 0845 numbers. CSA 0845 numbers have not yet changed. If you have already decided 0845 numbers are too expensive to call, you'll not find out that a cheaper number is now in place because DWP have chosen to make no other announcements about the new numbers and their website contains no details of the changes. You have to call the expensive 0845 numbers before you're told the new 0345 number or to even know that there is a new number. The in-call announcement, which is charged at 0845 rates, suggests callers contact their phone provider to find out which number (0345 or 0845) is cheaper. The DWP announcement when calling the 0845 numbers suggests the new 0345 numbers are "alternatives". Recent Cabinet Office guidance suggests 0345 numbers should be promoted as the "primary" numbers with 0845 retained for the benefit of the small number of callers that have their calls to 0845 numbers charged at a discounted rate. The 0845 numbers are mainly of benefit to people on "BT Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekdays, people on "BT Evening and Weekend" making chargeable calls during weekday daytimes and people on Vodafone pay-as-you-go. Almost everyone else should be calling the new 0345 numbers. Calls to 0345 numbers count towards inclusive call allowances on landlines and on mobiles. Calling 0345 numbers can be up to 41p/min cheaper than calling 0845 numbers. Ofcom made 03 numbers available in 2007. The Fair Telecoms Campaign pressed DWP in 2010 to change their numbers from 0845 to 0345 but the suggestions were rejected. After severe criticism of DWP and other government departments in a July 2013 National Audit Office report and at a Public Accounts Committee enquiry in September 2013, the Cabinet Office issued new guidance in December 2013 to all government departments. It suggested that 03 numbers be adopted as the default position. DWP have now activated the new 0345 numbers. What's missing is the publicity about these changes. While people continue to call the 0845 numbers, DWP continues to impose a 2p/min "Telephone Tax" on those callers. Ian_SE
  • Score: 9

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