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Universal credit: Plaid Cymru offers to pay for claimants' calls

Universal credit: Plaid Cymru offers to pay for claimants' calls
From BBC - October 13, 2017

People claiming universal credit have been offered free use of Plaid Cymru phones to avoid helpline charges.

Party leader Leanne Wood said amid delays in payments, charging callers up to 55p a minute to check the status of their claim "adds insult to injury".

The party said all Plaid MPs and assembly members would let claimants make the calls from their offices.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said people concerned about the cost could request a free call back.

Opposition parties and some Tory backbenchers have urged a pause in the nationwide rollout of universal credit - which replaces a range of benefits for working-age people - because of concerns over delays in claimants receiving their money.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tackled Theresa May on the issue of the 0345 helpline at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, saying it was costing some of the nation's poorest people 55p a minute to call on a mobile phone.

In a joint statement on Thursday, Plaid MPs Hywel Williams and Liz Saville Roberts said their constituency offices in the Gwynedd towns of Caernarfon and Dolgellau respectively would be available for claimants to make such calls on the party's phones.

"It is shocking that those trying to claim universal credit face being charged for the privilege of simply speaking to someone about their claim," the MPs for Arfon and Dwyfor Meirionnydd said.

"Notwithstanding the barriers already faced by many claimants, such as spiralling debts, homelessness and evictions, charging people who are broke to find out the status of their claim is absurd.

"I hope they will drop this outrageous charge as soon as possible."

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