ON HOLD: One-in-four Centrelink calls abandoned

A QUARTER of all calls to Centrelink are being abandoned after the waiting time for an answer grew to 17 minutes, a new report shows.

The Australian National Audit Office report showed 13 million of the 43 million calls to the Centrelink hotline in 2013-14 were abandoned.

"(Some) 13.7 million calls were unable to enter the network, that is, the calls were blocked and the callers heard the busy signal," the report stated.

It also revealed customers on about a third of all calls made during the year had to wait up to 30 minutes before speaking to someone.

Waiting times have grown from about three minutes in 2010-11 to almost 17 minutes in 2013-14, because of public service job cuts.

However, about 45% of the calls made were eventually answered, while a quarter of the calls were resolved within the automated voice response system.

Fairfax Media reported on Thursday staff working on "off-phone activities" were asked instead to take calls from customers.