Contacting the DWP

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2011 Retired Members' Conference
17 June 2011

Conference deplores the continuing use of 084 nos by many organisations as the only means of contacting them by ‘phone. Despite claims that 0845 are ‘lo-call’ cost, they are rarely as cheap as a local call or indeed a geographic call and are used as a means of raking in extra money.

Conference believes that the most scandalous aspect of 084 nos is their use by government departments and agencies and particularly the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) whose Pension Service can only be contacted by ‘phone on an 0845 number. In 2006 the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the DWP for allowing 21 million calls (44%) to go unanswered. Having closed down hundreds of local offices and replaced them with 62 call centres in an effort to save £375m it was described by the PAC as: “unresponsive, over-complicated and unreliable.”

Conference is particularly concerned at the impact of these calls on pensioners, many of whom are on modest or poverty line fixed incomes and can ill-afford the rates charged but have little choice but to use the 0845 number as the only means of contacting the DWP.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

i. Liaise with the National Executive Council and through them other relevant bodies on ways to progress this initiative;

ii. Work through all appropriate channels to seek the discontinuation of the 0845 number by the DWP;

iii. Publicise through all appropriate channels the website which provides geographic alternatives to 0845 (and 0870) nos;

iv. Urge retired members to write to their MPs on this issue;

v. Report back to Retired Members Conference 2012.