- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
Following the publication of her report earlier this month into the use of higher rate telephone numbers by Government departments, Valerie has called on the Chief Executive of Walsall MBC to ensure that cheaper alternatives are available where the Council uses higher rate numbers.
“I published a report into the use of higher rate telephone numbers by Government departments, based on the responses to written parliamentary questions which I tabled. I am concerned by the responses as Government Departments are using the higher rate telephone numbers such as the 0843, 0844 and 0845 prefixes. These numbers are most frequently used by the departments that have the most direct contact with the public such as the Department of Works and Pensions.(DWP). Many of the Benefits lines are higher rate numbers.”
“The problem is not confined to central Government. Walsall MBC also lists a number of higher rate telephone numbers on its website, including the numbers for Social Care and the Register Office. I have written to the Chief Executive, Mr Paul Sheehan to ask that cheaper alternatives are provided.”
“Calls to higher rate telephone numbers can be expensive, particularly for people on lower incomes, who are more likely to call using mobile phones which do not include higher rate numbers as part of inclusive call packages. It is crucial that cheaper alternatives are provided which use the 01, 02 or 03 prefixes.”
“I am pleased that as a result of the questions I tabled, which were in the public domain, the Cabinet Office has issued new guidance, albeit on Boxing Day, advising Departments that cheaper alternatives to high-cost phone lines must always be offered. I hope that this guidance will be adopted throughout the public sector, including local Government, and that Walsall MBC will take a lead.”
Valerie’s letter to the Chief Executive of Walsall MBC is can be viewed here.
Valerie’s Report into the Use of Higher Rate Telephone Numbers by Government Departments is available to download here.