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    Government department 08 phone numbers found to be ‘too expensive’

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    Phone numbers used by Government departments have come under fire recently as they have been found to be costing the public millions to call.

    Over £56 million has been paid by the public on calls to various departments who are using high-cost phone numbers, which can cost up to 41 pence per minute.

    Around 61 per cent of government phone lines are were found to be high cost, with over 208 million calls being made in 2012/13.

    The last time any guidance was issued on government telephone lines was back in 2010, where many were advised to move over to mobile friendly 03 numbers, although this advice seems to have been widely ignored.

    MPs have recently warned that the public is being ‘ripped off’ by the government by being expected to call higher rate numbers and being kept on hold for a period of time. Departments that have been highlighted as the worst offenders include the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs.

    Chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, said: “Customers of Government services should be able to contact those services easily and cheaply. Charging customers higher rates by making them use 0845 or other high rate numbers is not acceptable, especially when the customers are often vulnerable people.”

    Following the recent reports, there have been announcements made from some departments who vow to do away with higher rate numbers and introduce ‘low-cost alternatives’ such as local numbers or the 03 range.