Penniless UC claimants pay 55p/min to call govt. Guess what millionaires pay

truss breakdown.png

As the SKWAWKBOX covered yesterday, Treasury Secretary Liz Truss floundered incompetently and dodged the question when she was challenged by the BBC’s Daily Politics programme about the fact that Universal Credit (UC) claimants – many of whom are in absolutely desperate straits – are charged 55p per minute to call the DWP to try to sort out their claim.

A woman broke down on in a BBC interview yesterday as she told of the impact on her life of an eight-month delay in her payments – and 45% of UC claimants have experienced delays, often resulting in serious hardship. According to Jeremy Corbyn in yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, campaigners expect UC to push 200,000 more children into poverty.

However, not everyone is forced to pay through the nose to contact the government about their financial affairs.

In fact, some don’t pay at all.

‘0300’ numbers, according to area-codes.org.uk, are charged at the same rate as a call to a normal landline:

0300

However as the last couple of lines make clear, if you have a contract mobile or landline with included minutes, calls to an 0300 number are included in your package – so you can call one for free.

So, does the government make 0300 numbers available to any groups of people who might want to contact it? It does.

To whom? Well, the wealthy, of course. In fact, even the very wealthy – so-called ‘high net worth individuals’. HMRC (Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue) – the organisation that deals with tax collection – website contains a helpful list of contact numbers for all kinds of categories of potential callers.

Here’s its page for those with loadsamoney:

hmrc wealth

If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.

It’s not just millionaires. Just inherited a huge windfall and want to check your inheritance tax position? You’ve guessed it: free.

Made a mint on your shares and investments? No problem – you can call the Capital Gains helpline without spending a penny.

McDonalds, Starbucks, Amazon or any other huge business? You can call the Corporation Tax or Employer helplines within your contracted minutes – even if it’s just to order some more HMRC stationery.

Oil and gas companies, offshore investors, accountants, builders, investors, alcohol importers and lots of others can call HMRC gratis.

But there’s one category that takes the cake:

yachtline

Yup. If you’ve got a yacht or pleasurecraft and you want a bit of help from HMRC on any potential tax issues, you can call free of charge.

But if you’ve got nothing, in many cases literally nothing, well, it only stands to reason that you should rack up a £5.50 bill for every ten minutes you sit listening to infuriating music in the long, long queue – 45% of claimants need to get through, remember – while you wait for someone to answer and tell you that you’ll receive your money next week. Again.

Or in six weeks, or eight months, or whenever we eventually get around it once we think we’ve milked you enough on our gougeline.

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42 responses to “Penniless UC claimants pay 55p/min to call govt. Guess what millionaires pay

  1. Nail on head Skwawkbox.

    In fact, this rare brand of hard-hitting journalism is equivalent to dozens of nails being banged into place in the Tory government coffin.

    Now roll on their funeral, in the shape of the next election.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Although hardly surprising, given the number of HMRC fraud inspectors, compared to the amount of DWP fraud inspectors; and the startling disparity of the cost of those to the nation between the amount of fraud from each.

    Just another kick in the balls to the poorest…

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’ve just phoned both the High Net Worth line and the ‘Yaughtline’ and a real person answered within 2 rings asking how they can help. No waiting, no music, no labyrinth of going through options. Disgraceful.

    Liked by 2 people

      • The call to the 0300 number will have cost exactly the same as calling a DWP 0345 number.

        If the caller has an inclusive calls allowance (these are available on landlines, on contract mobiles and on pay-as-you-go mobiles) there will have been no charge for the call.

        If the caller has used up their inclusive allowance, or chose a deal without an inclusive allowance, they will have paid between 2p and 13p per minute if calling from a landline, between 5p and 55p per minute if calling from a contract mobile, or between 3p and 45p per minute if calling from a pay-as-you-go mobile. In all cases, the rate is set by the caller’s phone provider and is the same as the rate charged for calling 01 and 02 numbers.

        Like

  4. Even 0300 numbers are subject to the 60 minute rule on contract and lane line (well at least mine). My last attempt to contact the DWP took over an hour, so I ended up paying for the whole call.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Gosh this article just screams “lack of research”.

    ALL numbers starting with 03 cost the same as a standard landline. The Universal Credit helpline is an 03 number charged at exactly the same rates as the examples you have given. 0300, 0330, 0345, 0370… if it starts 03, it’s charged at normal landline rates, just like calling your neighbour or a friend down the road. For most people, such numbers will be free as they’re included in bundled talktime or call allowances.

    If people pay 55p per minute it is only in the rare cases where they don’t have any inclusive calls or bundled minutes and have chosen the worst possible tariff.

    The only debate here is whether taxpayers should pay over the odds to fund a freephone 0800 or 0808 number. It would mean nobody would have to pay anything to call up about Universal Credit – but it would massively increase the running costs and line the pockets of the phone companies.

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    • Way to miss the point. ‘rare case’? Do you seriously think people who haven’t been paid for weeks or months have mobile phone contracts with inclusive minutes? PAYG customers will be charged a fortune to chase money they should be receiving anyway

      Liked by 2 people

      • No point missed. But your article as it stands makes no sense. Your argument is that UC credit helpline costs “55p per minute” but the High Net Worth helpline and others for the well-off are “free”. That is demonstrably untrue – all of them are 03 numbers and charged at the same rates.

        Please do argue that this helpline should be *genuinely* free via an 0800 or 0808 number, or highlight the ridiculous charges for some PAYG tariffs if you wish. But don’t confuse the matter by falsely claiming that UC helpline uses a more expensive type of number.

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      • They are free to those who can afford contracts with bundled minutes – which is what the article clearly says:
        “If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.”
        Please don’t construct straw men

        Like

      • It’s also worth pointing out on re-reading that you wrote:
        “So, does the government make 0300 numbers available to any groups of people who might want to contact it? It does.”
        I apologise if I’ve misinterpreted your meaning, but I took this to mean you think 0300 numbers are a good thing. It was therefore puzzling that you seemed to be trying to contrast this with the UC helpline when it’s charged in the exactly the same way as an 0300 number. It may be 0345 rather than 0300, but there is no difference in the charge rates – all 03 numbers are charged the same.
        Regarding phone choices, bundled and inclusive minutes were indeed once the preserve of those on expensive contracts, while everybody on PAYG paid an inflated per-minute charge. But these days PAYG top-ups don’t just provide credit for per-minute calls – most networks let PAYG users by bundles of talk time, text and data. There is no reason for anybody on PAYG to be wasting their top-ups on 55p/minute charges for calling a normal landline when even the minimum top-up amount on most networks can buy a decent of inclusive minutes. (That said, it is distinctly dubious that phone companies punish people who don’t buy bundles with sky high per-minute charges.)

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    • Gosh, June – your reply screams of ‘lack of research’ Typical taxpayers alliance style right-wing think tank propagandist billshut.

      e.g. “The only debate here is whether taxpayers should pay over the odds to fund a freephone 0800 or 0808 number”

      Never heard of VAT then? Or, do you suppose those on – or trying to claim UC – are exempt from any sort of tax?

      But then again, I suppose your telecom shares MUST pay a dividend to the divvy’s, eh? ‘Taxpayer funded’ F complete and absolute FS…

      Are you, by chance, related to the other ‘smith’ imbecile what created the whole clusterf*ck in the first place?

      Like

  6. Pingback: Penniless UC claimants pay 55p/min to call govt. Guess what millionaires pay | Hercules space·

  7. A wholly misleading headline. The 0300 numbers you have quoted for ‘high net worth individuals’ cost exactly the same as the 0345 number used for Universal Credit.
    The 55p a minute quoted is an ‘up to’ amount and this is very specific to Vodafone. If you have a contract with a bundle and go over your allowance of minutes then, and only then, will Vodafone will charge you 55p a minute. This is not a revenue sharing number like 0845 numbers and the Government get nothing from it.
    No PAYG operator in the UK charge anything like 55p minute, some examples are 1p mobile charge (unsurprisingly) 1p a minute, three charge 3p minute and 02 classic PAYG charge 5p minute. A public phonebox will cost you 60p for half an hour.
    In an ideal world it would be a freephone number but until then at least stick to reporting the facts rather than using misleading headlines and creating more division.

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    • 1) Just how many penniless UC claimants do you think have mobile contracts with free minutes? 2) the latest table of call costs has some providers with *higher* costs than 55p 3) calls to the UC helpline typically exceed the 60-min limit for calls even within contracted minutes, resulting in the whole call being charged. Thanks for your contribution

      Liked by 3 people

      • So why didn’t you report that instead of the misleading nonsense you actually wrote?

        Like

      • Take your straw men elsewhere. The article is plain:
        “If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.”

        Like

      • It’s what the article says: “If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.”

        Like

      • Don’t bother, Skwawky.

        Gobshites like those last two ‘contributors’ won’t be satisfied until the poor end up with nothing left to sell but their arses…So the perverts can shaft them physically after screwing them financially.

        There’s no mitigation for what you’ve highlighted. None whatsoever. Forget that those on ‘daddy’s yacht’ don’t pay anything to find out how to lower/negate their tax ‘burden’…

        If the poor only had enough for the correct phone contract, instead of blowing their non-existent benefit (that they can’t claim) on the electricity (Again at pre-pay meter rates when they should’ve shopped around for the cheapest tariff)) for the TV or mobile phone they sold to feed themselves…

        It’s the poor’s fault for not shopping around.

        Jesus H Corbett – where do they find these idiots?

        Liked by 1 person

      • lol @The Toffee. So a desire to have factual reporting is now being a gobshite or being part of the Tax Payers Alliance?
        This article makes it appear as though the government give a better deal on a phone line to wealthy people. They don’t, they use the same 03 national rate number in all the examples provided here as they do with UC customers.
        Should the UC number be free? Maybe. Should telephone companies be able to charge such high rates to their customers? Possibly.
        Those points can be debated plenty. But what shouldn’t be up for debate is accurate reporting from a regulated news outlet like this. This is the point both The Toffee and the forum moderator here are missing, that facts shouldn’t be twisted to suit your beliefs. The original story was damning enough without resorting to this.

        Like

      • The facts have not been twisted. The article is very clear about how it works and why it’s free for the wealthy:
        “If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.”

        Like

      • But this is a different argument to you originally made.

        By all means it’s right to argue a free 0800 / 0808 number would be appropriate for UC claimants.

        But you made out that the issue was UC being chargeable when other helplines are free. That’s simply not true. UC, High Net Worth, Yacht Line… All are 03 numbers charged at the exact same standard landline rate.

        Like

      • Re1: The only way that it will cost 55p a minute is by going over an allowance on a Vodafone contract. As ‘peniless UC claimants’ are unlikely to have contracts with free minutes then they will never pay 55p minute.
        Re2; Who charges more than 55p a minute? I stand by my statement that there are no Uk PAYG providers who charge anything like this much. The most expensive I could find is 30p a minute which I think is extortionate and says more about the network provider than the Government.
        I also gave examples of providers charging as little as 1p minute or 60p an hour to call an 03 number.
        Re3; That is only valid on landline call packages. With mobile contracts there is no maximum call time on inclusive minutes. If your call lasts 120 minutes and you have at least that many remaining then it is part of your allowance and not chargeable.

        You are completely misleading people with both the headline and false/incomplete information in the comments section. You sought to create an ‘Us and Them’ situation regarding ‘Yacht owning High Net Worth individuals’ and ‘Penniless UC Claimants’ but was ignorant of the fact that the phone line would cost the same in both instances.
        If you want a debate about whether the helpline should be 0800 or 0808 aka Freephone, then that’s a valid debating point. What you shouldn’t do is use incomplete and/or misleading information. Put the facts out there and let others decide.

        Like

  8. The UC number is an 0345 number. They’re charged at the same rate as these 0300 numbers. The maximum charge to ring UC is 55p from some pay as you go mobiles. Exactly the same as the numbers you’ve cited. And as with those numbers you’ve cited, UC is free on inclusive contract minutes.
    Do you actually have any editorial standards? Or is it all good in the name of collecting that click cash.

    Like

  9. I agree totally that there should be a free 0800 number for UC claimants to call. I also totally agree UC isn’t working how it should and is creating poverty rather than solving it.

    But I do think Skwawkbox and others covering this scandal have scored an own goal here. There is enough wrong with the way the government is dealing with the UC problems, without trying to mislead people into thinking claimants have to call a premium rate number and that the government is getting paid something by the phone company. It is not. An 0345 number, which is what a UC claimant has to call is exactly the same as an 0300 number – it is a local call rate number. The article tries to make out that people with yachts and big tax bills are given a cheaper number to call than are UC claimants, which is completely untrue. Those people are given 0300 numbers, which are absolutely the same as 0345 numbers.

    People with UC credit issues are unlikely to be able to afford a phone contract giving them free minutes when they call either an 0345 or an 0300 number (or any local number). That is what we should focus on – and the fact that there are so many in dire need who have to call that they sometimes have to wait for an hour or more to get through to a human (who is probably not able to deal with their problem anyway).

    I believe it is irresponsible (sorry to be so blunt!) to pass on a story that is untrue (or at least deliberately misleading). That is playing right into the hands of those who would have us do nothing about the way the government is robbing from the poor to pay the rich. They can turn round, expose the lie, and then claim that everything else we say is untrue or exaggerated too.

    It is also wrong of Skwawkbox to turn on those who have exposed this attempt to mislead. The truth will out, and then, as I have already said, the right wingers will simply say we are publishing false news. Let’s not fall into that trap – get some true stories out there instead – there are plenty to tell and will continue to be as long as this government is in power!

    Like

    • Who have we ‘turned on’? Evidence please or retract. And the article is extremely clear about why and how the numbers are free to the rich:
      “If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.” Please do not construct straw men to attack

      Like

  10. June Smith 13/10/2017 at 1:45 pm · ·
    “But this is a different argument to (what) you originally made.”

    Except your argument is that it (UC number) shouldn’t be ‘taxpayer funded’. It simply isn’t anyway; nor would it be if it were made an ‘0800’ number.

    If the yachtline isn’t free to call – as you make out it isn’t – then what’s your crib?

    Does the yachtline cost 55p per minute? No – it doesn’t. Not to those with the money to be able to afford a mobile contract or a landline.

    That’s hardly likely to be anyone unable to claim UC because they can’t even afford the call in the first bleedin’ place, can they?

    And you seem to believe that the poor don’t pay tax. You said as much.
    FYI – They do. VAT is indiscriminate.

    Go away and have a long think about what you’re trying to argue about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course it should be taxpayer funded. And please don’t put words in my mouth – I’m well aware that our regressive tax system often places a proportionally higher burden on the least well off, which is shameful.

      My beef is that the article claims the 03 numbers used for UC are “55p per minute” then says that the exact same 03 numbers used for the other services are “free”. It’s incorrect, illogical and distracts from an otherwise valid argument.

      To be clear, an 03 number is the cheapest possible phone number that could be used for any service other than a freephone 0800 or 0808 number. It is, in general, a good thing that government use such numbers – they’re low cost or free for most users.

      The alternative is an 0800 or 0808 number. These are free to call, but only because the organisation receiving the call pays the costs instead. That would clearly increase the cost to the government. My reference to taxpayers (which I never implied excluded UC claimants) was simply to point out that if we’re arguing for a freephone number, we need to be aware that it will end up with disproportionately more public money ending up in the hands of the phone companies instead of providing public services and benefits.

      The whole premise of the article and its headline is that government runs free helplines for the rich while using chargeable numbers for those claiming UC. That’s not true – all numbers are charged at the same rate and the cost to the caller is determined by personal circumstance.

      There is clearly an underlying truth that many claimants can ill afford to make chargeable calls of any nature. But in that case, the argument to take to government is that we think it’s a right and proper thing to put more money into UC and provide a subsidised, freephone number for claimants because they deserve that extra consideration.

      By all means, hold the government to account. But don’t make it easy for them to dismiss you by presenting poorly-founded arguments they can easily dismiss.

      Like

  11. ‘The whole premise of the article and its headline is that government runs free helplines for the rich while using chargeable numbers for those claiming UC. That’s not true – all numbers are charged at the same rate and the cost to the caller is determined by personal circumstance.’

    *Sighs*

    If only I owned a yacht…All those ‘subsidies’ I could get, eh?

    Then we get: ‘My beef is that the article claims the 03 numbers used for UC are “55p per minute” then says that the exact same 03 numbers used for the other services are “free”. It’s INCORRECT, illogical and distracts from an otherwise valid argument.’

    Followed by: ‘To be clear, an 03 number is the cheapest possible phone number that could be used for any service other than a freephone 0800 or 0808 number. It is, in general, a good thing that government use such numbers – they’re low cost OR FREE for most users.’

    ‘Illogical’ you claim? I’m not the one needs to make my mind up, that much is evident.

    And, as Michael said yesterday…
    “I’ve just phoned both the High Net Worth line and the ‘Yaughtline’ (sic) and a real person answered within 2 rings asking how they can help. No waiting, no music, no labyrinth of going through options. Disgraceful.”

    Like that’s gonna happen for UC claimants, eh? No – they’re kept on the line for hours on end; and those fortunate enough to have a landline or mobile contract end up going over their allotted ‘free’ time and end up paying the full whack.

    This government’s response would no doubt be: “Well there shouldn’t be so many of them claiming, then, should there?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • You seem determined to read everything I post as an attack on UC claimants or the benefits system. I’m not sure why.

      The point I made, quite clearly, is that this article portrayed 03 numbers for the high net worth and yacht lines as “good” numbers then attacked the government for providing UC helpline through… er… the exact same 03 numbers! That makes no sense.

      You seem to take issue with my description of 03 numbers above. I’m struggling to see how I can make it any clearer, but the point is they are *not* freephone in that they never charge – but that they are *effectively* free or cheap to call for most users as a result of being charged at landline rates and bring included in bundles and talktime. I don’t think that’s hard to understand or in any way ‘illogical’.

      I am quite happy with the idea that 0800 or 0808 numbers would be more appropriate for UC claimants, as these would be universally free to call – albeit considerably more costly for the DWP to operate.

      We seem to be taking at cross purposes and I have no idea why. Clearly you, like I, believe that UC claimants should be treated with respect and not incur costs or face barriers in accessing essential help.

      The things we should be asking are:
      * Should we provide 0800 or 0808 numbers for UC claimants to make absolutely sure they never pay call charges? Very possibly.
      * Why are callers being kept on the line for over an hour?
      * Why can’t claimants get help and advice in person rather than via unhelpful phone lines?
      * Do we need to better regulate the phone companies who charge eye-watering rates for normal calls if somebody hasn’t realised it’d be cheaper to buy bundles?

      These are questions well worth asking. But they’ve been lost and overshadowed by a mistaken claim that the government is using a more costly for of phone number for UC than other services. They don’t.

      Like

      • Just to point out, the article does not say the numbers for millionaires etc are freephone:
        “If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.”

        The point is that someone who can afford to have a contract with a free minutes bundle can call for free – poor people on PAYG will be gouged.

        Other than that, agree with your points about what we should be asking

        Like

    • Again, what is being attacked is a straw man and not what the article says:
      “If you’re a millionaire or billionaire, you or a representative can call absolutely free or in the worst case – can you imagine a millionaire or millionaire’s dogsbody without a mobile contract with free minutes? – for the same as calling any landline.” The numbers will be free to any conceivable wealthy person – but the same will *not* be free to most low-income people

      Like

  12. You have massive patience June. The point you argue is perfectly clear to me and Mr/Ms Tofffee really needs to back down because he or she has undoubtedly lost this one.

    Like

    • Thank you.

      It seems to have escalated somewhat from my original attempt to clarify things!

      Really just annoyed to see a good chance to attack UC’s failings be squandered. The DWP has been able to simply and quickly rebut complaints about ‘expensive calls’ this week by pointing out, entirely truthfully, that they use a local rate number. Had the argument been that UC needs to be freephone, or that excessive wait time are racking up bills, they’d have found it much harder to dodge the issue.

      Like

    • Oh – ‘Lost’ this one, have I?

      Nope. Unless you realise that those what can’t afford contracts with telephone companies, and are therefore excluded from any free rate calls, then it’s not me needs to ‘back down.’

      But if you want to make a veiled dig on them by making their calls to UC totally free – then claim that ‘the taxpayers’ will be ‘subsidising’ their ‘free’ calls..?

      While I agree with June on certain points, she really ought to think about what she’s saying; because saying things like ‘taxpayer subsidised’ is the exact terminology the tories use as an excuse…

      Don’t forget – the yacht owners are hardly likely to be ‘subsidising’ any free calls, seeing as they’re probably calling to find out how much they DON’T have to pay – and no doubt will be charged the lower rate, if they’re even charged at all.

      Like

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