Tens of thousands of Britons have had a very frustrating time trying to get through on the phone lines to enquire about topping up their National Insurance (NI) contributions earlier this year.
Britons can normally fill in gaps in their NI contributions, which may increase their state pension, up to six years ago, but this is currently extended further by another 10 years as far back as the 2007/2008 tax year.
The deadline for the extended period was previously set for July this year – it’s now been pushed back to April 2025 – with Britons flocking to call the Future Pension Centre as the final countdown ticked away.
DWP figures reveal just how overwhelmed the phone lines were during the peak of enquiries.
In a four-week period from February 27 to March 26, calls to the Future Pension Centre helpline almost doubled compared to the previous four weeks, with a total of 1,007,868 calls, but only 47,345 of these were answered.
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More than 942,000 of the total calls were “blocked”, meaning the call was cut off and was not even allowed to enter the queue to speak to an advisor.
Those lucky few who did join the queue had to wait a long time to talk to anyone, with an average speed for answered calls of 28 minutes and 46 seconds.
And the test of patience proved too much for some people, with just over 18,000 calls in the queue abandoned before they got through.
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Exasperated Britons put the phone down in despair after on average 23 minutes and 23 seconds waiting time.
Things hardly improved in the following four weeks, from March 27 to April 23. Demand fell by a third with 389,395 calls, but even fewer were answered, with 47,300 calls managing to get through.
During the period, around 327,000 calls were cut off and just over 15,000 calls were abandoned. Britons who were adamant they would wait still had to wait on average 22 minutes and 44 seconds to talk to someone.
For the period from April 24 to May 21, there were 252,100 calls but even fewer were answered, with just 42,439 getting through, with an average wait time to talk to someone of 22 minutes and 19 seconds.
Express.co.uk asked the DWP for a response to the figures. The department pointed to its announcement of the extension of the deadline, until April 5.
Laura Trott, minister for Pensions, Department for Work and Pensions, said previously: “I am pleased to see so many people taking steps to review their State Pension, which is why we have extended the deadline for customers to add extra years to their National Insurance record.
“This extension means thousands more people will have time to check their entitlement, and in many cases increase the amount they receive when they retire.”
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