“Don’t charge for benefits helpline” says Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM

Dawn Bowden AM has called on the UK Government to end “ridiculous” charges to call a Universal Credit hotline.

The UK Government have already come under significant pressure to scrap or at least delay the further roll out of Universal Credit. Councils, housing associations and private landlords have reported a significant increase in rent arears in areas where Universal Credit has already been rolled out. Many claimants have also spoken out about the 6 week wait for payment.

The Trussell Trust, which operates a network of 400 food banks, has said increasingly worried that volunteer-run centres will not be able to cope in the run-up to Christmas with growing demand from people who are being switched to Universal Credit benefit.

Dawn Bowden said:

“This is an absolutely ridiculous situation. People who have no money are being told that in order to get that money they have to phone a 55p a minute helpline.”

“Offers of being able to call from Job Centres are not even a sticking plaster and the only solution is the scrapping of this charge.”

“With claimants facing the spectre of homelessness and malnutrition, this is completely unacceptable.”

“These are people who are already at a point of crisis, the idea that they can sit on the phone for an unspecified amount of time at 55p a minute is plain wrong”

We should listen very carefully to the warnings of organisations like the Trussell Trust.”