Victims of the recent floodings have had some good news today after a cheaper helpline number has been released.
The Environment Agency has come under fire recently because of their use of an 0845 number for the support line provided to those who have been affected by the recent floods, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying it was “not appropriate” to publicise their higher rate number during a crisis.
The Agency have now switched from their Floodline 0845 988 1188 number to the equivalent 0345 number, meaning that the costs to call the helpline have been slashed from up to 41p per minute to basic rates.
According to the 0345 number had been set up a number of months ago but the Environment Agency had refrained from publicising to avoid confusion amongst the public.
For the time being, the agency will continue to provide both their 0845 and 0345 numbers so that callers to both numbers can still get through.
A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency has never made any money by using an 0845 number. Most people pay nothing to call Floodline from a landline as 0845 numbers are free as part of their call packages. The cost of calls from mobiles is determined by the phone service provider.
“However we want to make sure the public do not pay over the odds to call. An 0345 number is now running parallel with the 0845 number as part of this transition, giving people an alternative.
“The full switch over to 0345 988 1188 will take place as soon as possible. However, we have been in a heightened incident since early December and took the decision not to start to promote the new number as we did not want to confuse the public and jeopardise public safety.”
In a message on Twitter, Mr Cameron said: “Calls to flooding helplines shouldn’t be premium rate – I’m pleased the EA has introduced a cheaper UK-wide number.”
03NumberShop’s CEO, Mahmood Mazhar is also happy with the Environment Agency’s news: “The adoption of the 0345 number is great news – we agree wholeheartedly that it is unacceptable to expect callers to pay over the odds to call helplines in a time of crisis.
“03 Numbers have been around for a number of years and are now finally becoming widely used as more and more people are unhappy with the charges incurred when calling from a mobile. Hopefully this move will encourage all other public facing organisations to switch too.”