Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has today called for a freephone number to be established immediately following reports that individuals applying for Universal Credit will be charged up to 45p a minute to make a claim.
There is currently no cost to make a claim over the phone for those applying for JSA and ESA; however, Justin Tomlinson MP has now suggested that a Universal Credit helpline will charge 45p a minute for those wanting to make a claim.
The local MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands, said:
“It is appalling that the DWP believe it is right to charge people with very little money extortionate amounts just to apply for Universal Credit. This shows just how skewed Iain Duncan Smith’s moral compass is.”
“These phone calls often end up lasting a long time, as people can be left on hold for long periods of time and will often need to discuss complicated issues. The cost of these calls could make it difficult for the most disadvantaged people to even apply for Universal Credit.”
“We shouldn’t assume that everyone has access to the internet and can therefore complete an application online. People on low incomes are less likely to have internet access and getting online can also be a problem in rural areas where connectivity isn’t as good, such as in many areas in Renfrewshire.”
“A few years ago, ministers recognised the destructive nature of this policy, so we need to question why the idea of charging those in need of support up to 45p a minute just to access welfare is back on the table. IDS must establish a freephone number for Universal Credit as soon as possible.”