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DWP - FOI (Read 33,281 times)
wintonian
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DWP - FOI
Aug 19th, 2009 at 1:51pm
 
Hello guys,

Just thought pepole round thse parts might be intrested in the FOI requests I have made to the DWP which can be found as follows:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/telephone_numbers

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/telephone_numbers_2

I would be intrested to hear your thoughts.

Regards
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Heinz
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #1 - Aug 19th, 2009 at 6:37pm
 
Quote:
Dear Sir or Madam,

Would it be possible under the terms of the FOI act to provide me with a list of non-geographic phone numbers for the 81 BDCs and
social fund offices along with their corresponding geographical numbers.

If this information could you explain why not?

Yours faithfully,

Robert Eriksohn

I'm afraid your penultimate paragraph doesn't make sense Robert.

Additionally, may I recommend a spellchecker.
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« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2009 at 6:40pm by Heinz »  

After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #2 - Aug 19th, 2009 at 6:47pm
 
"over 70% of our customers contact us using landlines" and, striked out, "BT account for two-thirds of landline provision".

A quick back of the hand calculation based on prices for 0845 numbers

Of the 70% of landline customers, if two thirds of them are on BT, that's slightly less than half paying BT's anti-competative 1.96p/min.
Say the other third are paying VM's 5.39p/min, since they are the biggest alternate landline supplier.
And the remaining 30% are paying a somewhere between 20p and 40p/min from a mobile, so lets say 30p.

For a random 1000 daytime mins, that means the BT people pay £9.80 (for 500 mins)
The 20% VM customers are paying £10.78
And the 30% mobile customers are paying out £90.

So, yes, while they may be trying to reduce costs for the majority of their customers, it is at at disproportionate expense to the remaining ones.   Given that a few BT customers may be on their top package, so getting inclusive 0845/0870 calls, it wouldn't be far wrong to say that 90% of the costs of calling them are met by less than a third of their callers ...



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« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2009 at 6:48pm by irrelevant »  
 
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #3 - Aug 19th, 2009 at 8:17pm
 
Robert

Thanks for the briefing.

Words are often used oddly to create confusion around this issue. To describe 0845 numbers as being "geographical" because they are dedicated to geographically located offices, rather than there being a single national number, is a new one on me.

You may have a better idea of the history, however I suspect that these numbers remain from the days when they were cheaper for many than geographic numbers that were not “local”.

The use of 0845 (and 0800) numbers by all of the DWP agencies is under review. Various matters bear on this, including some central consideration of the matter on a cross-departmental basis and the imminent announcement of what the Department of Health is going to do about the (beloved) NHS.

There is no need for a public consultation, except on the political question of whether some users of DWP services (and all BT customers) should continue to be required to pay so as to subsidise the costs incurred by taxpayers in providing DWP services. The obvious alternative is that all use of revenue sharing numbers should cease, with 01/02 or 03 numbers used as appropriate.

(We must remember that all BT customers are, in effect, paying for the revenue share on 0845 numbers. This is either through their call plan fee, or through the cross-subsidy that must be present to provide a suitable overall gross margin given the higher costs of originating calls to 0845 numbers, as against the lower charges.)

To find out who loses and benefits, one simply has to consult the relevant tariff tables. Those who pay for BT calls (outside a call plan) benefit from 0845 numbers, due to the perverse effect of the relevant regulations, which cover only part of what BT does. Apart from a tiny number of callers on legacy tariffs living some distance from the relevant office, all others gain no advantage from use of 0845. Many suffer serious financial penalties, largely on account of the revenue share.

In my view, even if the latter group were only perhaps as few as 10% of callers (it is assuredly more than that), then there would still be no justification for this practice, when there is an equitable alternative available.

When addressing the issue of the proportion of calls that come from BT landlines, I have asked officials from the DWP to consider a likely issue, with profound social effects. How many of these callers are service users with their own PAYG mobile, who impose on friends, neighbours, café owners etc. to borrow their phone to call the DWP agencies because their credit is not sufficient?


The situation with the 0800 numbers is different. The taxpayer subsidises the caller’s costs if they are calling from a landline. For calls from mobiles, the caller incurs a premium charge.

Efforts to persuade the mobile companies to subsidise the caller / taxpayer by waiving their charge, as they do for “Helplines”, have so far not been successful.  Special efforts are however in hand to get the “crisis loans line” treated as a special case (as distinct from other DWP 0800 numbers) by getting it classified as a “Helpline” for this purpose.

Other than the above, a number of options would therefore seem to remain for the 0800 numbers.

1.      Switch to 03 (or geographic) numbers so no-one is surcharged or subsidised. Callers pay for their calls in the “normal” way (perhaps through a package fee which they are already paying).
2.      Offer 03 (or geographic) alternatives for mobile callers, so that only landline callers are subsidised by the taxpayer.
3.      Extend the subsidy to all, by making a special funded arrangement with the mobile companies not to charge for calls to these numbers.

The latter option would be unprecedented and would perhaps make it harder for the government / people to continue to benefit from the waiver of charges that applies to many services.

Introduction of a fully paid for “true freephone” range of numbers (whereby all calls are paid for by the recipient) has been proposed by some. This would enable the latter option to be put in place using standard features of the telecoms market. One suspects that if there had been sufficient demand for such a range then it would already have been introduced.

Closely related to this issue is the question of who pays the additional costs (whatever they may truly be) of mobile telephony. I believe that mobile users are certainly being subsidised to some degree by landline callers, although others disagree. Higher costs being carried generally by mobile users would enable the present 080 ranges to be extended to also cover calls from mobiles.


All the best with the FOI. The scope of the exemptions that may be deployed to avoid releasing geographic alternatives has already been tested. It has sadly been found to be very wide in some cases, although not in others. (Members with intimate knowledge of these matters may wish to help with examples that may serve as precedent, should the request progress to the more legalistic stages.)

You could consider offering all of the alternatives published in the saynoto0870 database for confirmation. If it were acknowledged that the information was already in the public domain, then many of the grounds for exemption would fall away.

My personal view is that where a geographic number is perfectly acceptable for the function being performed then the non-geographic number should simply be abandoned.

David
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ew.walgrove
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #4 - Nov 2nd, 2009 at 11:33pm
 
Hi, see this Freedom of Information request reply from the DWP 2nd November 09


http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/the_use_of_0845_numbers#incoming-53210
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #5 - Jan 6th, 2010 at 5:22pm
 
I have got some information released under the Freedom of Information Act - is this of use to anyone here?

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/17992/response/63811/attach/4/cross%20spre...

This speadsheet received today gives the geographic numbers for JobCentres England, Scotland and Wales.

See here for more information: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/geographic_phone_numbers#incoming-63811

Any use? Smiley
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« Last Edit: Feb 6th, 2010 at 8:14pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #6 - Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:10pm
 
confirmordeny wrote on Jan 6th, 2010 at 5:22pm:
I have got some information released under the Freedom of Information Act - is this of use to anyone here?

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/17992/response/63811/attach/4/cross%20spre...

Hi and welcome to SAYNOTO0870.COM. Thanks for this.

What is data in the "0845 No." column? They look like dates. Do you know what they mean? Huh
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« Last Edit: Feb 6th, 2010 at 8:14pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #7 - Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:18pm
 
Dave
I don't know for certain but I think it is the date of the 0845 roll out whatever that means.  I hope the geographic numbers will still work after the roll out.

John
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« Last Edit: Feb 6th, 2010 at 8:15pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #8 - Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:27pm
 
confirmordeny wrote on Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:18pm:
Dave
I don't know for certain but I think it is the date of the 0845 roll out whatever that means.  I hope the geographic numbers will still work after the roll out.

John

That's how I read it. I thought that all JobCentres had their own 0845 number but a quick search of a couple of areas suggests that the geographicals are published online anyway.

Presumably this means that all JobCentres will soon have rip-off 0845 numbers.  Cry
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« Last Edit: Feb 6th, 2010 at 8:15pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #9 - Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:31pm
 
I was trying to get a comprehensive list of all the DWP's geographic numbers but they refused part of my request.  I have appealed to the ICO today but appeals can take 12 months or more.
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« Last Edit: Feb 6th, 2010 at 8:15pm by Dave »  
 
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Dave
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #10 - Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:36pm
 
confirmordeny wrote on Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:31pm:
I was trying to get a comprehensive list of all the DWP's geographic numbers but they refused part of my request.  I have appealed to the ICO today but appeals can take 12 months or more.

Thanks. I will look in more detail at the request and its response later.

Going back to the question of the geographicals being changed, we had a request for the Bexleyheath JobCentre number last month. The JobCentre website gives this branch's number as 0845 604 3719 and the number listed in the spreadsheet you got is (020) 8218 4700 which now has a recording on giving the 0845 number. The date alongside it (change to 0845 number) is 17/11/09.

That said, we had success there by changing the last digit to 1 which gets through to Bexleyheath JobCentre. I suspect that there's a fairly good chance that each branch's published geo number will be one from a range of numbers. Quite a few in your spreadsheet end 0, so this is worth looking into.
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« Last Edit: Feb 6th, 2010 at 8:16pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #11 - Jan 9th, 2010 at 2:39pm
 
confirmordeny wrote on Jan 6th, 2010 at 6:18pm:
Dave
I don't know for certain but I think it is the date of the 0845 roll out whatever that means.  I hope the geographic numbers will still work after the roll out.

John

This would appear to be the case as the announcement on the DWP website suggests. See the thread for DWP/JobCentre Plus for more on this.
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« Last Edit: Feb 6th, 2010 at 8:16pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: DWP - FOI
Reply #12 - Oct 12th, 2010 at 4:21pm
 
There are a couple of recent FOI responses on WhatDoTheyKnow on the subject of DWP/Jobcentre's move to 0845 numbers:

1. 0300 Rate Telephone Numbers [Sent 11 August]
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/0300_rate_telephone_numbers

The requestor started off by pointing out the high cost of calling 0845 numbers. The questions were: "Has the DWP considered replacing or clearly advertising 0300
rate phone numbers in addition to 0845 lo-call numbers for all Job Centre Plus branches and Belfast benefits office?" and "If not, when will this be considered and if yes, what was the outcome and please supply any documents or feasibility study into the use of 0300 numbers at HMRC / National Insurance Centre / Job Centres Plus."

The response states:
Quote:
The 0845 numbers … are charged at the standard rate for landlines.  Mobile phones costs can vary from different operators and contracts.  DWP does not use premium rate numbers.

Quote:
The Department has considered the use of 0300 numbers to replace 0845 numbers. However, our analysis shows that this would result in higher charges for the majority of customers.

Perhaps the Department could reduce its telephony costs by openly promoting BT as its sponsor. Roll Eyes

We should have a fair telecoms market where organisations aren't making decisions that favour their customers who subscribe to one (or a number of) telephone companies. Clearly DWP wishes to help BT in its aim of domination in the call provider market.


2. Replacement of local jobcentre phone numbers with non-geographical (0845) [Sent 21 September]
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/replacement_of_local_jobcentre_p

Like the previous requestor, this request started off by pointing out the high cost of calling 0845 numbers and asked for:
Quote:
1) Information on why the decision was taken to change to 0845 numbers
2) Information on any pubic survey that may have been done with regards to this matter and the results of those surveys.

The response consists of two files (available in HTML and MS Word formats). The first is the letter and the second is entitled "DWP One Number Research Summary".

The survey was about whether respondents would or wouldn't call and whether they would call from a mobile or not. The last question was would respondents use a call-back service? The response says that 40% of 16 to 24 year old are likely to use their mobiles and request a call-back.

03 numbers don't get a mention in this summary.
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« Last Edit: Oct 12th, 2010 at 4:47pm by Dave »  
 
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