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0845 Numbers

Volume 529: debated on Monday 13 June 2011

16. What recent representations he has received on his Department’s use of 0845 numbers; and if he will make a statement. (58797)

The Department—and, indeed, I myself—has received several communications from customers and their representatives asking about our policy on the use of 0845 numbers and whether we have considered changing to 0300 and/or geographical numbers. In the wake of those representations, I have asked the Department to undertake an internal review about our use of 0845 numbers and see what other options might be available to us.

I thank the Minister for that response, but given that benefit clients normally have no access to a landline, that calls from mobiles can cost as much as 40p and that they could be kept waiting for information on crisis loans and disability, should we not do more and consider talking to the Telephone Helplines Association about that to make faster progress than we are currently achieving with 0300 numbers?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. We offer a ring-back service to anybody who is concerned about the cost of the call that they are making. None the less, there is a genuine problem and I have asked the Department to consider it and ascertain whether better options are available, particularly given the number of claimants who use mobile phones.