Jobcentre Plus: Telephone Calls

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 25th January 2011.

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Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the saving was to (a) his Department and (b) Jobcentre Plus from the use of non-geographical telephone numbers in the financial year (i) 2008-09 and (ii) 2009-10; and what estimate he has made of the likely saving for 2010-11.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

From January 2008, there have been no revenue sharing numbers in use in the Department for Work and Pensions. Although some 08 numbers are still in use they do not attract any payback and have not done so since December 2007. As a result, there have been no savings from the use of non-geographical telephone numbers in the financial years 2008-09 and 2009-10, and there will be no savings in 2010-11.

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David Hickson
Posted on 29 Jan 2011 11:07 am (Report this annotation)

Mr Grayling confirms that there is no payback being received, i.e. the DWP is paying the full cost for the use of non-geographic numbers.

Callers pay a premium to call "Business Rate" 0845 numbers, so as to provide a subsidy, which the DWP no longer receives. Furthermore, the DWP incurs the direct cost and inconvenience of calling back to those (most callers) who would pay less to call a Geographic Rate number.

The DWP should be using 03, non-geographic but Geographic Rate, numbers.

This would save the DWP the cost and agent time involved in call backs, as well as saving callers a fortune. As there are no savings from the revenue share to be lost, there would be no corresponding cost to the taxpayer.

A convenient way of immediately addressing this issue would be to take advantage of the facility to offer the equivalent 0345 number for every 0845 number, as an alternative. This would avoid the cost of individual number changes and could be covered by a general advice to swap the first 8 in the number for a 3 to save money and avoid the need for a call back.

If Mr Grayling is to be believed, the DWP is wasting taxpayers' and service users' money.
The long overdue switch to 03 numbers must be implemented immediately.

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