Published On: Mon, May 22nd, 2023
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DWP announces Universal Credit phone line changes | Personal Finance | Finance

The DWP has announced plans to improve its system for dealing with telephone enquiries with a new Virtual Agent system.

The agent will help route calls to the correct channel so a person calling a helpline can get the support they need.

Social Mobility minister Mims Davies recently said the new system will start with Universal Credit before being expanded over the next three years.

Labour MP Rupa Huq had asked the Government what steps the DWP was undertaking the improve the “efficiency and accessibility” of its phone services.

Ms Davies said in her response there is a Modernising and Transforming Telephony Project as part of the DWP’s Service Modernisation programme.


She said of the project: “The first enhancement will involve the introduction of ‘DWP’s Virtual Agent’. This will support customers through their telephone journey and best determine how to respond or help with their enquiry.

“The objective of this technology is route calls to the right person or support available at the right time and providing a better overall customer experience than now.

“Starting with Universal Credit, we then plan to introduce this technology further over the next three years.”

She said the technology will complement the existing telephone service including the Relay UK and video relay service.

The video relay service allows a person who uses British Sign Language using a sign language interpreter.

The DWP recently said it was experiencing “higher than forecast call volumes” to the PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and Disability Living Allowance phone lines.

DWP minister Tom Pursglove said the DWP had recruited extra staff for the telephone lines and is recruiting more people to “increase resources”.

Mr Pursglove said: “There are no current targets for the Average Speed of Answer (ASA) for calls to the PIP, DLA and AA [Attendance Allowance] telephone enquiry lines. The average speed of answering calls within AA and DLA65+ is within acceptable levels.”

. With the uprating, these are the monthly payments for the standard allowance:

  • Single under 25: £292.11 (up from £265.31 per month)
  • Single 25 or over: £368.74 (up from £334.91 per month)
  • Joint claimants both under 25: £458.51 (up from £416.45 per month)
  • Joint claimants, one or both 25 or over: £578.82 (up from £525.72 per month).

Britons on certain means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, are receiving , which is being paid in three instalments over this financial year.

The first instalment of £301 has now gone out to most eligible people with the second instalment of £300 to go out in autumn 2023. The third instalment of £299 will be paid in spring 2024.

People on disability benefits are to get a £150 cost of living payment between June 20 and July 4.

Pensioners who receive the Winter Fuel Payment this winter are also to get an additional cost of living payment on top of the payment, of between £150 and £300.

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