Benefits Agency to end freephone advice service

The Benefits Agency is to end its freephone advice service from 12 July - saving pounds 6.5m. Some 3 million calls a year are made on the "Freeline", but an agency review found that many customers had then to be referred to their local benefits office to pursue the inquiry. Last March, the Independent disclosed the plan to scrap the Freeline as part of a pounds 200m programme of social security cuts.

In a written Commons announcement, Roger Evans, Under Secretary for Social Security, said the money saved would go into the delivery of benefits. However the Child Poverty Action Group said it was already difficult for people to get information about benefits. Group director Sally Witcher, said: "There is a risk that fewer people will get the benefits they need."

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