Steve Jones, Help the Aged's director of communications, defended the proposal: "In a relatively short conversation, callers can increase their income by tens of pounds a week in some cases."
SeniorLine takes 70,000 calls every year from England, Scotland and Wales on issues such as benefits, council tax and housing, and costs £550,000 a year to operate. The average call lasts five minutes, and benefits-related calls can last up to 15 minutes.
Last week, the charity shed nine jobs at its Scottish office, including all five helpline advisors, and re-routed all calls to London. The redundant staff plan to take the case to an employment tribunal.