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FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LSC) (Read 24,027 times)
idb
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FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LSC)
Aug 22nd, 2005 at 6:02pm
 
Reply received earlier today. Point 1 was for the LSC to provide the geographic numbers. Point 6 related to COI guidance and why it was being ignored. The response to point 2 is factually incorrect (no surprise).

<<
Thank you for contacting the Learning and Skills Council Helpdesk (LSC).

Please accept our sincere apologies for not responding to your original
email. Unfortunately, the email was mis-filed and was therefore not picked
up by one of our helpdesk advisors. Please be assured that we are reviewing
our procedures to avoid this happening again.

We are able to answer the majority of your questions immediately. However,
we are consulting on points 1 and  6 of your enquiry and will supply a
written response to these parts of your email within 7 days. Should the
information arrive at the helpdesk sooner, we will of course contact you
immediately.

2) LSC uses non-geographic 0845 numbers in order to comply with OFTEL (now
OFCOM) guidance (guidance but not mandatory) that callers contacting public
bodies should pay the same rate regardless of where the call originated.
This would not be the case if a geographic numbering system was used.

When the LSC was set up, a policy decision was made to use 0870 numbers -
where the caller pays for the call - rather than other non-geographic
options such as 0800 (caller pays nothing) or 0845 (caller pays local rate
only) on cost grounds. Had the 0800 option been selected, LSC would have
been charged 6.30 pence per minute 08-00 - 18-00 Monday to Friday on all
calls received as against 2.62 pence per minute for an 0845 number.

We are aware of the need to provide a cost effective advice service to our
customers and so we are increasingly encouraging contact through e-mail
(info@lsc.gov.uk) and via our website www.lsc.gov.uk

3) LSC receives no financial advantage from using non-geographic numbers;
the call costs are recovered and retained by the PTO, usually, but not
necessarily, BT. The use of 0845 numbers costs the LSC in the region of £35K
- £40K per annum in subsidising the cost of incoming calls.

4) Global Crossing supply the non-geographic numbers. Information about how
to contact them is available through their website at
http://www.globalcrossing.com/jsp/global/contact_us.jsp.

5) To date, the LSC has had no written complaints regarding the difficulties
experienced by overseas callers attempting to dial non-geographic numbers.

As mentioned above, we will contact you again in the near future, as soon as
we receive the information. If you require any further information in the
meantime,  please e-mail us again at info@lsc.gov.uk.
>>
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idb
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #1 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 1:20pm
 
LSC has now responded to point 1 (underlying GNs). It is gathering information to reply to point 6 (COI advice). I am truly staggered that it has given out these numbers without any fuss!

<<
Further to our previous correspondence, please find enclosed a spreadsheet
of geographic numbers to which the 0845 and 0870 numbers are delivered
(point 1).

As soon as we receive relevant information from colleagues relating to point
6 of your enquiry we will get back to you.  

Greater Manchester LSC  0845 019 4142  0161 261 0555
Birmingham & Solihull LSC    0845 019 4143  0121 345 4501
London Central LSC    0845 019 4144  020 7904 0630
Surrey LSC  0845 019 4145  01483 803201
North Yorkshire LSC  0845 019 4146  01904 385500
Thames Valley LSC  0845 019 4147  01189 082280
Bournemouth/Dorset/Poole LSC  0845 019 4148  01202 652626
Staffordshire LSC  0845 019 4149  01782 463081
Merseyside LSC  0845 019 4150  0151 672 3650
London East LSC  0845 019 4151  020 8929 3801
Kent/Medway LSC  0845 019 4152  01732 876800
Humberside LSC  0845 019 4153  01482 383400
Oxfordshire LSC  0845 019 4154  01865 291700
Devon & Cornwall LSC  0845 019 4155  01752 754001
Exeter LSC  0845 019 4155  01392 354718
Coventry & Warwickshire LSC  0845 019 4156  02476 443000
Lancashire LSC  0845 019 4157  01772 441700
London North LSC  0845 019 4158  020 8929 3300
Cumbria LSC  0845 019 4159  01900 730000
Bedfordshire LSC  0845 019 4160  01234 426000
Somerset LSC  0845 019 4161  01823 220000
Cheshire LSC  0845 019 4163  020 8929 8400
London West LSC   0845 019 4164  020 8929 8522
Cambridgeshire LSC  0845 019 4165  01733 893000
Tees Valley LSC  0845 019 4166  01642 743333
Hertfordshire LSC  0845 019 4167  01727 736400
West of England LSC  0845 019 4168  0117 372 4000
West Yorkshire LSC  0845 019 4169  01274 444297
National Office 0845 019 4170  02476 825000
South Yorkshire LSC  0845 019 4171  0114 267 4777
London South LSC  0845 019 4172  020 8929 8800
Norfolk LSC  0845 019 4173  01603 212301
County Durham LSC  0845 019 4174  01325 373001
Northamptonshire LSC  0845 019 4175  01604 533056
Wiltshire and Swindon LSC  0845 019 4176  01793 601780
Leicestershire LSC  0845 019 4177  0116 228 8500
Lincolnshire 2 LSC  0845 019 4178  01522 500001
Essex LSC  0845 019 4179  01245 553000
Suffolk LSC  0845 019 4180  01473 886300
Tyne & Wear LSC  0845 019 4181  0191 492 6448
Hampshire LSC  0845 019 4182  01489 558300
Derbyshire LSC  0845 019 4183  01332 863690
Sussex LSC  0845 019 4184  01273 786210
Northumberland LSC  0845 019 4185  01670 704700
Black Country LSC  0845 019 4186  0121 345 0000
Nottinghamshire LSC  0845 019 4187  0115 872 1400
Herefordshire & Worcestershire LSC  0845 019 4188  01905 361447
Gloucestershire LSC  0845 019 4189  01452 455555
LSC National Helpline  0870 900 6800  0161 234 9085
LSC Publications Line   0870 900 6800   0161 234 9085
LSC Brandsite   0870 990 6081  0161 234 9090
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« Last Edit: Aug 23rd, 2005 at 1:25pm by idb »  

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Dave
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #2 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 3:47pm
 
Just putting these numbers into the database now. I've not tried ringing any, but I suspect that this is a slightly out of date/incorrect list.

Cheshire has an 020 tel number and 01606 fax.
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idb
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #3 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 4:09pm
 
What strikes me about the GN list is that the LSC has some very desirable (memorable) numbers -

01482 383400
01865 291700
01752 754001
024 7644 3000
01900 730000
01234 426000
01642 743333
01733 893000
01522 500001
01245 553000
0121 345 0000

Organizations would pay good money for such numbers. Why then does the LSC have to use such underwhelming numbers such as 0845 019 XXXX? The thought process behind this switch to NGNs really does need to be questioned.
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #4 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 6:10pm
 
01522 500001  which leeds me to belive they have got  01522 500000 as well.

Now thats a really yummy number....
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #5 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 9:08pm
 
Well I've just tried a few and so far my initial suspicions are prooving correct. Some are number not recognised, one is the number for a solicitors!

I think that some of these numbers have been picked out of thin air!  Roll Eyes

I've guessed a couple correctly, but I think we will have to draw up a list of ones we need.

Oh, and the Shropshire office doesn't even get a mention!
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #6 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 9:16pm
 
Quote:
Well I've just tried a few and so far my initial suspicions are prooving correct. Some are number not recognised, one is the number for a solicitors!

I think that some of these numbers have been picked out of thin air!  Roll Eyes

I've guessed a couple correctly, but I think we will have to draw up a list of ones we need.

Oh, and the Shropshire office doesn't even get a mention!
Excellent!!! Too good to be true I guess. There I was, all optimistic, that a government agency would provide what I asked for but ultimately, it's just a pile of inaccurate nonsense. I wonder if the supplier just made up the numbers. I will do some of my own investigation and get back to the LSC. You just couldn't make this stuff up.
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #7 - Aug 25th, 2005 at 8:27pm
 
The LSC has now, in a fashion, answered my point #6.

<<
Having spoken with colleagues and carried out a search to point 6 of your
enquiry, the LSC have no meeting minutes or other supporting documents
related to this.

Although not directly related to your question, enclosed is a link taken
from the LSC Reading Room which provides information on the LSC Helpline
0870 telephone number:

http://readingroom.lsc.gov.uk/pre2005/about/purpose/learning-and-skills-council-...
>>

This document includes the following:

The LSC aims to offer an efficient, professional and accessible
national information and advice helpline service to partners and
members of the public.
• It does this through a single national number (0870 900 6800) which
has the same call rate to enquirers of 10p per minute at all times no
matter where they are calling from nationwide
• The average call length to the LSC helpline is two minutes – equating
to 20 pence per call - which we do not consider to place too onerous
a burden on enquirers
• We are aware of the need to provide a cost effective advice service
to our customer and so we are increasingly encouraging contact
through e-mail (info@lsc.gov.uk) and via our website (lsc.gov.uk). Approaching half our enquiries now come to the helpline
in this way and we anticipate that this number will continue to grow.

The Communications Directorate at national office is responsible for the
operation of the LSC helpline. The helpline was initially set up at the formation
of the LSC in April 2001. The telephone and online service takes just over
3,000 enquiries per month and is now an important source of information for
many of our partners and members of the public. The service is currently
operated by bss Linklines.

Our aim is to ensure:
• an efficient and professional information and advice line for learners,
partners and the general public
• an accessible national service that offers a single national number
and the same call rate to enquirers
• a cost effective service that optimises the way we spend taxpayers
money

Many other government departments use 0870 numbers for their help and
advice lines, including the Department for Education and Skills.

continued...
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #8 - Aug 25th, 2005 at 8:29pm
 
...

Background:

The LSC has received an enquiry from a member of the public (a Mr Thomas)
regarding the use of an 0870 number for the LSC’s national public enquiries
helpline service. The enquirer was concerned about the higher level of tariff
associated with the use of 0870 numbers. It is possible that the enquirer will
take this up with his local MP in Cambridge.

Questions and Issues:

Q: Are you aware that 0870 numbers cost callers significantly more than
for example local 0845 numbers or 0800 freephone numbers?
A: We are aware that 0870 numbers can be more expensive for callers than
making national calls to a normal business, domestic telephone number, a local
0845 number or an 0800 freephone number
Our aim when initially adopting the 0870 number was to ensure that we did not
incur additional costs over and above those of running the helpline, and that the
system was fair, with callers charged the same rate wherever they phoned from
nationwide.
The average call length to the LSC helpline is two minutes – equating to 20
pence per call - which we do not consider to place too onerous a burden on
enquirers

Q: Do you use the helpline number to raise money for the LSC?
A: We do not make any money whatsoever from the 0870 number. As a non
departmental government body, we are not allowed to nor would we seek to
raise any revenue in this way

Q: Have you considered using a different sort of number for the service?
A: The helpline contract is currently under negotiation and one of the areas
under review is that of the telephone number. We are considering the local rate
prefix 0845 and freephone number 0800, alongside other options.
However if we adopted the local rate prefix 0845 or freephone number 0800 we
would be subsidising many or all of the calls, the costs of which we would have
to recover.
When considering changing the helpline number we will also be taking into
account the cost of reprinting all related publicity materials and changing the
website which could prove very expensive

Main Facts:

N.B. Not for dissemination just for background information.
Comparison information on call rates:
0870 national rate:
Cost to caller 10p/per min at all times
Cost to LSC – nothing (with no gained revenue)
0845 local rate:
Cost to caller – 3.7p/per min peak (off peak variable depending on where
phoning from)
Cost to LSC - 6p/per min peak – 4.5p/per min off peak
0800 freephone:
Cost to caller – nothing
Cost to LSC – 8.5p/per min peak – 6.5p/per min off peak

Other related documents:
Not applicable

Third Parties:
Not applicable

Next Key Events:

Internet Links:
Contract negotiation and decision re telephone number due to be completed by
date.
Not applicable
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« Last Edit: Aug 25th, 2005 at 8:30pm by idb »  

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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #9 - Aug 25th, 2005 at 8:43pm
 
Quote:
...Main Facts:

N.B. Not for dissemination just for background information.
Comparison information on call rates:
0845 local rate:
Cost to caller – 3.7p/per min peak (off peak variable depending on where
phoning from)
Cost to LSC - 6p/per min peak – 4.5p/per min off peak
0800 freephone:
Cost to caller – nothing
Cost to LSC – 8.5p/per min peak – 6.5p/per min off peak
Why is it government departments very rarely look around for the cheapest supplier of NGN's.  A lot use C&W or BT and yet there are cheaper ones where LSC wouldn't have to pay towards.

Why can't they use geographical numbers?  I'm guessing prob stats, etc as this appears the norm for gov funded bodies.
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« Last Edit: Aug 25th, 2005 at 8:44pm by bbb_uk »  
 
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #10 - Aug 27th, 2005 at 1:19am
 
Quote:
Although not directly related to your question, enclosed is a link taken
from the LSC Reading Room which provides information on the LSC Helpline
0870 telephone number:

http://readingroom.lsc.gov.uk/pre2005/about/purpose/learning-and-skills-council-...
The LSC has now removed this link after I indicated it contained factually incorrect information. I received this message earlier today:

<<
Thank you for your email of 25th August. In response to your comments
regarding the factually incorrect points, specifically with regards to the
document on the Reading Room, we have taken immediate action and removed it
from the Reading Room for review. In order to undertake a thorough review we
would appreciate the feedback that you will be sending us next week as this
will assist us.

I am Client Liaison Co-ordinator for bss, the not-for-profit organisation
that manages the LSC Helpdesk on behalf of the LSC, and I would be grateful
if you send your feedback directly through to myself, at this email address,
so that I can ensure that it is passed on immediately.

Client Liaison Co-ordinator
bss solutions (on behalf of LSC)
www.bss.org
>>

Interesting that a non-profit is responsible for the running of the help desk, and presumably the 08X numbers.
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #11 - Aug 27th, 2005 at 2:54pm
 
Quote:
Interesting that a non-profit is responsible for the running of the help desk, and presumably the 08X numbers.


Because they are not for profit they employ amateurs who seem to just fall for the lies that people like Global Crossing peddle.

The people who need shooting over all this are Ofcom for not seeking the powers to stop this misselling.

The life insurance industry has been fined hundreds of  millions of pounds lately for blatant misselling scams of this kind.

The vast majority of the population are easily conned and need to be protected from conmen by legislation, regulators and policemen.  Unfortunately Ofcom prefers "Light Touch" which in my experience actually means "Active Neglect"!
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #12 - Aug 27th, 2005 at 3:56pm
 
Quote:
Why can't they use geographical numbers?  I'm guessing prob stats, etc as this appears the norm for gov funded bodies.

Now let me see if I have this right.  They are paying for those (unnecessarily) expensive lines and we are paying extra to call them when that is only necessary so that they can gather statistics for their political masters - the people we elect to represent us - so that those same politicians can boast about those statisics when it comes to election time - so that we will elect them again because of the wonderful job they have done!

The world has gone completely mad!
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« Last Edit: Aug 27th, 2005 at 4:03pm by bill »  
 
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #13 - Aug 27th, 2005 at 4:03pm
 
Quote:
 They are paying for those (unnecessarily) expensive lines and we are paying extra to call them when that is only necessary so that they can gather statistics for their political masters - the people we elect to represent us -


But the people you elect to represent you would never dare to use anything other than an 01 or 02 number to contact them.

It is because these QUANGOs are unelected that they think they can get away with behaving like this.  The individual politicians do not have nearly as much control over the operation of the QUANGOs as you might either hope or think is the case.
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« Last Edit: Aug 27th, 2005 at 4:04pm by N/A »  
 
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Re: FOI response - Learning and Skills Council (LS
Reply #14 - Oct 30th, 2005 at 5:15pm
 
idb, are we any closer to getting a list of geographical numbers, being as the one above (in reply #1) is a load of rubbish as most are incorrect?
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