Theresa May slammed for ripping off the poor after Universal Credit helpline charges 55p a minute

The Sun - 11 Oct 2017

THERESA MAY was slammed for ripping off the poor after it emerged the Universal Credit helpline charges callers up to 55p a minute.

MPs demanded the Government scrap the fee and review all the phone line charges across other departments.

The Cabinet Office vowed four years ago to restrict the use of premium rate numbers after campaigners condemned them as “wicked”.

But the Department of Work and Pensions helpline for its controversial welfare scheme charges up to 55p per minute.

Labour campaigner Frank Field MP told the Sun: “You couldn’t dream up a better way of kicking the poor into destitution.

“The Secretary of State’s phone calls are presumably free. Why can’t they be free for the poor. The charges should be abolished.”

The row came as Theresa May came under fire from Jeremy Corbyn and her own backbench Tory MPs over the rollout of Universal Credit – which groups together up to six benefit payments in one.

Mr Corbyn urged the PM to “wake up to reality” and pause the expansion to 50 JobCentres a month given the delays claimants are experiencing in getting their money.

Downing Street insisted there were no plans to change the UC phone charge.

Speaking outside the Commons, the PM’s official spokesman said: “As I understand it, most of the issues can be resolved online but if there are issues where people want to call the hotline, and are concerned about the cost, DWP will call them back.”

Steve Hawkes, The Sun