30 December 2018

The Tory-run Department of Work and Pensions is refusing to publish ‘scripts’ used by Universal Credit helpline operators to dismiss callers as quickly as possible.

The department refused to hand over the scripts to Scottish Labour MP Danielle Rowley following a Freedom of Information request.

The request followed a report by Sky News that operators were working to a "deflection script" designed to get callers off the line as quickly as possible.

The response denied the existence of any such script, but admitted there are "certain agent-led processes to ensure correct steps are taken when appropriate.

In addition there are supportive lines available to agents to assist claimants with being able to self-serve where this is appropriate” without detailing what those lines are as requested by the FoI request.

Labout MP Danielle Rowley said:

"It is ironic that in asking the DWP to reveal the deflection tactics they have been accused of using against desperate Universal Credit claimants, the DWP resorted to exactly those sort of deflection tactics with me.

"The reports by Sky News were deeply troubling and if true confirm my worst suspicions about the true motives behind the rollout of Universal Credit. "This system, with its stated aim of making work pay, is little more than a disgraceful attempt to target those who have the least and make sure they have even less in the future.

"I call on the DWP to come clean on this as a matter of urgency and reveal all 'lines' provided to helpline operators to assist with call handling.

"With the recently departed Secretary of State having had to apologise to the House for misleading it on multiple occasions, and with the opportunity to begin with a clean slate,

"I urge Amber Rudd to lance this boil without delay before her own tenure is tainted in a similar way to Esther McVey's."

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