“There can be economy, only where there is efficiency”

5 09 2011

“There can be economy, only where there is efficiency” – Benjamin Disraeli

So, for whatever reason, your financial circumstances are changing. You’re going to be skinter than a skinty skint thing in an attempt to foolishly better your career prospects.

You’ve cut back on all your luxuries, including landline telephone, central heating, food that has 20% VAT lumped onto it. You’re about to embark on 4 years of absolute poverty, none of this relative poverty crap – we’re rationing meals each week and the child wins daily.

For fear of the wrath of the HMRC or DWP,  you want to inform everyone as soon as possible of these changes. You don’t want penalised or worse, a criminal record for not informing them in time… So you call them; from your mobile because the landline is now gone, two weeks in advance of the changes.

This should be enough time to enforce the change and not too much that its outwith the realm of their understanding. Planning and organisation, fantastic invention.

Phonecalls to the likes of the Child Tax Credit Helpline and DWP are *always* 0845 numbers. This means that unless you are a BT landline customer with the appropriate free calls package, you are now paying over the odds for the very necessary phonecall.

If you only happen to have a PAYG mobile, you’re fucked!

At in the region of 12p a minute to call from a mobile or non BT landline, and with call times exceeding 25 minutes, the first 20+ of those on hold, you can expect to be paying in the region of £3 to alert the relevant authority of your changes.

But if you alert one department of change, they don’t automatically alert the other departments of change, even although in theory they should. So you have to go through the whole process again and again and again, depending on how reliant you have been on the DWP or HMRC for finances. So much for joined up working.

It’s the same for address changes too.

Now here’s the problem.

I phoned up the tax credit people to alert them I was starting university mid September and changing address.  After the moronic but pleasant enough guy on the end of the phone finally understood what I was trying to tell him, he told me to call back the day I start uni.

Wait a minute… did he say the day I start?

I have a 9-5 timetable that day with only 1 hour lunch break and no smaller breaks in-between. If I’m left on hold for a minimum of half the duration of my lunch break (if I’m lucky) I may just manage to get some lunch in. But, oh! wait! I wont have any income that day to pay for the phonecall, because the government contracted student loans company are having problems understanding my application circumstances, they want copies of my tax credit forms for some reason and they can’t get the institution right or even the year. I cant send the forms until they have applied the changes.

So, I ask why I cant just tell him now that these changes will be taking effect in 2 weeks time.  No response. I just have to tell him of the changes on the day.

I asked about another cheaper number to call. He doesn’t answer that question but “hopes” it wouldn’t be too busy that day. According to him, “today was quite a quiet day to call”, and I was on hold for over 20 minutes before speaking to a human… There is no cheaper number to call.

I asked about writing in. He said I could write in but they prefer dealing with it over the phone rather than dealing with lots of paperwork. Apparently here are no guarantees of having the changes made on time with letters, which could see ME penalised for overpayment, even if the letter was in weeks before the change was happening.


I can’t tell them in advance and then I can’t write to them incase THEY deal with the paperwork late?

This is a fucking joke. It’s inefficiency at its best. It’s giving the government every excuse they need to make cuts that will only make the situation worse. They’ll call it an efficiency drive, I call it driving me to the local psychiatric unit.

And how can any government department justify what are essentially higher call rates to their services and service users, knowing full well those phoning the tax credits helpline or the DWP are likely to be the poorest and most needy in society?

Are poor people not meant to plan in advance for their future? Are these agencies unable to make amendments to people’s data in timely fashion?

I now fully understand why people get so annoyed talking to customer services reps for the likes of HMRC or DWP and why they give them attitude. Callers are left on hold for long periods, costing money most people don’t have. When the caller finally gets through to a human being, they are told to call back at a later date because they can’t do anything now.

Give me strength!




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