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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Access to justice and advice sector issues  →  Thread

NAO seeking views on DWP’s approach to customer service

Daphne
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rightsnet writer / editor

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Joined: 14 March 2014

The National Audit Office has asked rightsnet to provide input into its study into the DWP’s approach to customer service

They are particularly interested in the following -

- How demand for benefits and customers’ expectations have changed in recent years.

- What good customer service looks like.

- Whether DWP provides good customer service.

- Whether there are any observed differences in experience between different demographic groups.

If you have views you’d like to be included please put them on this thread or email be directly to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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Have staff who assist clients to understand what they need to do to establish entitlement, rather than seek to obfuscate or mislead or obstruct.
Make accurate and timely decisions (just advised on straightforward couple separation following care home admission that has taken almost one year to get PC award in place).
Issue decision notices rather than telling people that claims are closed or shut down or telephoning them to say the claim hasn’t been accepted.
Deal with mandatory reconsiderations quickly and rigorously, rather than subject to delay and encouraging people to accept the original decision by telephone call and saying therefore no decision letter needed.

All of these are off the top of my head from the past couple of years with the Pension Service and more latterly the AA Unit. So on the question, “Whether DWP provides good customer service.” sadly not at the moment, about as far from providing good customer service as I can ever remember seeing.

Mairi
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Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

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I find it really hard these days (after 20 + years as a welfare benefit adviser) to actually tell if there has been an increase in the demand for benefit advice.  What is true is that it takes much longer even to get straight forward cases completed and often many more steps / contacts with benefit agencies (now that we also have Social Security Scotland added to the mix) before a case is completed. 

Good customer service for me would mean that I’m not increasingly feeling that claimants’ rights to justice and their entitlements are being fettered by an increasingly adversarial system.

I agree that good customer service, while still occasionally available, is now the exception rather than the rule in the DWP - sometimes due to the individual dealing dealing with the query but mostly due to the lack of training for those who answer the phone and the clunky systems which don’t reflect modern methods of working (emails anyone….?)

I also don’t think there is much of a difference between the internal parts of the DWP now - I used to look forward to quick and helpful dealings with the Pension Service but they seem to have dropped their service to the lowest common denominator in recent years.

I have to say that within the doom and gloom there are still shining examples of good and helpful customer service but they’re few and far between.

[ Edited: 23 Feb 2024 at 10:20 pm by Mairi ]