Magazine article Public Finance

Leigh Lambasts DWP Call Centres

Magazine article Public Finance

Leigh Lambasts DWP Call Centres

Article excerpt

MPs have urged the Department for Work and Pensions to improve its 'unresponsive, overcomplicated and unreliable' telephone service.

The Public Accounts Committee said that, in 2004/05, millions of calls from benefit claimants were not answered promptly, with 21 million not answered at all. 'This has got to change,' said committee chair Edward Leigh.

Although the general move away from face-to-face services in local benefits offices to telephonebased contact was hailed by the MPs as a welcome advance in how the DWP interacts with citizens, there was criticism of service accessibility.

Leigh said: 'Calling contact centres can be very frustrating. There are at least 55 different telephone numbers for contacting the DWP and, quite incredibly, if you contact the wrong service, the department's technology will not enable your call to be transferred to the right service.'

He added that the efficient running of centres was compromised by the fact that staff were often drafted in from other parts of the DWP, and by complex and unreliable IT systems. …

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