Universal credit: Plaid Cymru offers to pay for claimants’ calls

A person on a mobile phone

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Plaid Cymru has called for the “despicable” helpline charges to be scrapped

People claiming universal credit have been offered free use of Plaid Cymru phones to avoid helpline charges.

Party leader Leanne Wood said amid delays in payments, charging callers up to 55p a minute to check the status of their claim “adds insult to injury”.

The party said all Plaid MPs in addition to assembly members might let claimants make the calls via their offices.

The Department for Work in addition to Pensions (DWP) said people concerned about the cost could request a free call back.

Opposition parties in addition to some Tory backbenchers have urged a pause from the nationwide rollout of universal credit – which replaces a range of benefits for working-age people – because of concerns over delays in claimants receiving their money.

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn: “The PM talks about helping the poorest, nevertheless the reality can be a very, very different story”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tackled Theresa May on the issue of the 0345 helpline at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, saying in which was costing some of the nation’s poorest people 55p a minute to call on a mobile phone.

In a joint statement on Thursday, Plaid MPs Hywel Williams in addition to Liz Saville Roberts said their constituency offices from the Gwynedd towns of Caernarfon in addition to Dolgellau respectively might be available for claimants to make such calls on the party’s phones.

“in which can be shocking in which those trying to claim universal credit face being charged for the privilege of simply speaking to someone about their claim,” the MPs for Arfon in addition to Dwyfor Meirionnydd said.

“Notwithstanding the barriers already faced by many claimants, such as spiralling debts, homelessness in addition to evictions, charging people who are broke to find out the status of their claim can be absurd.

“I wish they will drop in which outrageous charge as soon as possible.”

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Universal credit replaces a range of benefits for people in work or unemployed

On Friday, Plaid leader Leanne Wood said all the party’s MPs in addition to assembly members might allow claimants to call the helpline via their constituency offices.

“The roll-out of the universal credit has caused untold misery for the thousands of people who have already faced receiving their payments late or not at all,” she said.

“The revelation in which the Tory UK Government can be charging people 55p a minute just to call the universal credit helpline adds insult to injury.

“People who are already suffering as a result of the Tories’ botched reforms shouldn’t have to face a further hit from the form of extortionate phone bills which they may not be able to afford.”

Meanwhile Conservative AM Mark Isherwood has written to Work in addition to Pensions Secretary David Gauke urging him to reconsider the helpline charges.

He claimed the situation was made worse by the fact in which while some people were charged for calling the English-language helpline, calls to the Welsh-language helpline on an 0800 number were free.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “Applications for universal credit are made online in addition to claimants then arrange their first appointment with their work coach over the phone.

“in which call can be charged at local rates which are set by providers in addition to are free for many people as part of their call package.

“If someone can be concerned about the cost, they can request a free call back.”

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