Telephone Services

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 2nd July 2012.

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Photo of Graeme Morrice Graeme Morrice Labour, Livingston

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many private sector call centre staff were used by his Department and its agencies in each of the last three financial years; and at what cost to the public purse.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

The following private sector call centres based in the UK provide services on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):

Call centre: Teleperformance

Service: (a) travel advice and (b) consular crisis calls (where volume and/or waiting times exceed the capacity of our Crisis Management Department’s internal call centre facility).

The number of call handlers deployed by Teleperformance at any given time to deliver FCO travel advice varies according to call volumes. We do not therefore have figures for the number of individuals who have been involved in delivering this service over the last three years. The cost to the FCO of providing this service to the public over the last three financial years is shown in the following table.

  £
2009-10 237,006
2010-11 198,173
2011-12 145,635

The number of call handlers deployed by Teleperformance at any given time to respond to calls to the crisis hotline varies according to call volumes. We do not therefore have figures for the number of individuals who have been involved in delivering this service. The cost to the FCO of providing this service to the public over the last three financial years has been as follows:

2009-10—n/a

2010-11 (including Volcanic ash cloud, Libya, Bahrain, Japan and Thailand)—£97,472.97

2011-12 (including Libya, Syria, Thailand and Morocco)—£129,716.3

Total—£204,860.26

Call centre: Careline

Service: advice on our legalisation services (and births, deaths and marriages, registration from 1 June 2011).

The number of call handlers deployed by Careline at any given time to provide information on the legalisation process and how to apply varies according to call volumes. We do not therefore have figures for the number of individuals who have been involved in delivering this service. The cost to the FCO of providing this service to the public since it was set up in February 2010 has been as follows:

2010-11—Legalisation office calls formed part of the ‘courtesy’ element of the Careline contract for passport inquiries (from 3 February 2010) so no cost to the taxpayer;

2011-12—Following the novation of passport service to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), costs for a continuing Careline service for legalisation and births, deaths and marriages inquiries (from 1 June 2011)—£81,864

Call centre: Careline

Service: advice on passport services.

Careline is a private sector provider. The contract is managed by the IPS. It is a user pays contract and as such there is no cost to the taxpayer.

Our consular call centres overseas are staffed by locally engaged FCO staff, all of whom are properly trained and consistently deliver an excellent service to British nationals seeking assistance.

Information on call centres operated by our global network of over 260 overseas posts and the agencies and non-departmental bodies for which we are responsible is not held centrally. This information could therefore be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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