My PM for Life,
I read on the news today that you plan to do something about the high cost of premium rate complaints and enquiries lines – numbers like 0845 – and are going to implement a cap come June 2014. Well done, you. The plan has been highly praised both by consumer groups and by MPs. Isn’t it great when the EU initiates a directive that makes you look good?
In the same article, I did spot something that made me chuckle though, and I’m sure you and IDS must’ve had a right laugh at this – it doesn’t have to apply to government numbers! This includes, of course, the disability benefits enquiries line which will remain an 0845 number. Though if you want to enquire about VAT, Capital Gains Tax, National Insurance, or the cost of hiring a Romanian to look after your paddock, well those are all normal rate, which also means they can be completely free if you’re using a mobile phone with inclusive minutes. If on the other hand, you need to call to see if your Work Capability Assessment form arrived on time, well that could cost you up to 41p per minute.
According to the National Audit Office, the taxpayer spent £56 million on higher rate numbers to government departments last year, and that the poor and vulnerable were most at risk as they were the ones more likely to be using expensive pay-as-you-go mobile phones, where the cost of calling 0845 numbers is substantially higher. For me personally, calling, and being on hold at that number, cost me about an arm and a leg last year. I’m not complaining though. That’ll cost me even more. 🙂
I am glad that you’re still reinforcing the idea that it is just not acceptable to be disabled in this day and age. And good for you. If you keep discouraging it, then I’m sure more people will just stop doing it.
Your biggest fan,