The 72 helplines covered by the agreement are the initial contact point into the DWP for many of the most vulnerable members of society including people with disabilities, older people, and people not in work. Helplines for crisis loans and other emergency payments are also covered by the agreement.
Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer Telefonica O2 UK Ltd, said: ‘We’ve taken action in a number of areas to help customers through these tough times and so I’m pleased that we have been able to find a way of removing the charges for O2 customers when they call one of the DWP’s benefits or jobseeker helplines.’
Rt Hon Yvette Cooper, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: ‘During difficult economic times it’s important that we give people as much support as we can. That’s why we want to make it easier for those claiming benefits to be able to do so as quickly and cheaply as possible.’
The agreement comes into effect on 18th January 2010.
O2 also has a separate longstanding arrangement with the Telephone Helplines Association (THA) under which all calls to helplines operated by charities and other organisations who are members of the THA are free of charge to O2 customers. These helplines use the prefix 0808 80 rather than 0800.