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FOI response - DFES (Education/Skills) (Read 4,485 times)
Supreme Member

Posts: 1,499
Miami, Florida, United States
Gender: male
FOI response - DFES (Education/Skills)
May 11th, 2005 at 1:20pm
Thank you for your recent Email enquiry concerning this Department's use of 0870 numbers and the geographic numbers that correspond to these. I am writing to confirm that the Department has completed its search for the information you requested and this is set out below.

Before responding to your specific points, I was concerned about the general point that it is not possible to dial these numbers from overseas as our understanding is that this is possible. By way of confirmation, we asked someone now resident in Spain to dial the DfES main switchboard number which they did without any problems. If this experience is typical, then I do not accept that the use of 0870 is discriminatory to British citizens living abroad. However, I also contacted BT and they indicated that, while it is technically possible to dial these numbers from abroad, it is possible that some 'carriers' don't support this service. BT are investigating further and I will let you know the outcome when I have a response from them.

In answer to your specific points, the 0870 numbers you refer to and the corresponding geographic numbers (shown in brackets) are as follows :-

Main DfES Switchboard Number 0870 0012345 (01325 391000)

Public Communications Unit (PCU) 0870 0002288 (01928 794446)

The decision to adopt an 0870 number for the Department's main number was taken early in 1998 in order to provide a single point of contact for the public and for other valid business reasons. Given the time that has elapsed since the decision was taken, there are no papers available to show why the 0870 system was adopted. The Department for Education and Skills does not participate in revenue share schemes associated with 0870 telephone numbers and therefore derives no revenue from the use of these numbers

I can confirm that we are aware of the COI guidance to which you refer and also that, as a result of a recent Ofcom consultation exercise, this is in the process of being updated. The revised version will be made available to us shortly and our intention is to review the Department's contact numbers in the light of the revised guidance but do not propose to make any changes in the interim.

I trust the above reply meets with your approval. If you are unhappy with the way the Department has handled your request, you may ask for an internal review. You should contact me if you wish to complain.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
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