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Government forced to scrap Universal Credit line charges

By Conor Coyle

Date: Wednesday 18 Oct 2017

Government forced to scrap Universal Credit line charges

(ShareCast News) - The UK government has been forced into scrapping a controversial 55p-per-minute charge on the Universal Credit helpline.
Work and Pensions secretary David Gauke made a statement on Wednesday announcing the withdrawal of the phone charges during an evidence session on Universal Credit.

The government had received criticism for the charges, particularly from senior figures in the Labour party.

Universal Credit, the new benefits system being introduced by Theresa May's government, sees six existing benefits schemes merged into one system.

Gauke told the session that the change to freephone will be made in November of this year.

"Given the recent attention and concern that this could place a burden on claimants, I have decided that this will change to a freephone number over the next month," Gauke said.

The 55p-per-minute charge was lambasted as a method of taking advantage of those who are in economic difficulty.

"Our work coaches support anyone who needs extra help with their online account but we want to make the process as burden free as possible, including for people who use our telephone service. That's why we are making all our customer phone lines free to use," he added.

Labour has called for the roll-out of the new programme to be immediately paused, ahead of a key debate on the issue later on Wednesday.

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