DWP staff are being encouraged to use “defection scripts” to deter claimants from calling the Universal Credit helpline, it has been revealed.
Callers are asked to explain the reason for contacting the helpline before being asked to provide security information, because it “may open up an opportunity” to fob off claimants to the Universal Credit website.
However, trials found that some DWP call handlers “moved straight into solution mode which is limiting the opportunity to deflect online”.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, initially denied the allegation, but evidence of the scripts have since been uncovered by Scottish Labour MP Danielle Rowley.
It has been widely reported that many people struggle to claim Universal Credit online or have difficulties in managing their claims, often due to a lack of internet access or poor IT literacy.
Commenting, Ms Rowley said: “This proves that not only does the DWP operate a callous and indefensible policy of not helping sometimes desperate callers over the phone, it is prepared to mislead the public to try to hide it.
“If the DWP can try and fob off my official inquiries and Parliamentary questions in this way it’s hardly surprising claimants are being forced to jump through hoops.
Source: DWP staff told to use ‘deflection scripts’ to deter Universal Credit claimants : Welfare Weekly