The new universal credit helpline has attracted plenty of criticism - with much of it centring on its cost. Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn has led the condemnation, claiming the helpline costs 55p a minute.
But is this accurate? The guys over at Full Fact, an independent fact-checking website, have done some digging and this is their conclusion.
The helpline for Universal Credit applicants is an 0345 number. Numbers starting with this code cost up to 9p a minute if you’re phoning from a landline. If you’re phoning from a mobile it can cost anything from 3p to 55p a minute.
Ofcom says that numbers beginning with 03 can be included in free call packages from landlines and mobiles if a person is signed up to this. Jeremy Corbyn called for the helpline to be made free for all.
Since Corbyn spoke at Prime Minister’s Questions the Department for Work and Pensions has said that “The #UniversalCredit hotline is charged at local rates, so calls are free for many people as part of their call packages… People can ask for free call backs from DWP”.
The Government recommends that people should use the helpline if they want to ask any questions about applying for Universal Credit or need help with their online application.
In conclusion, 55p a minute is roughly the maximum amount someone could be charged for a call from their mobile.
The minimum charge is 3p per minute. From a landline the maximum call charge is 9p per minute. These calls can be free under certain types of phone package.
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