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Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate (Read 20,338 times)
Ian01
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Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Feb 29th, 2016 at 3:23am
 

Campaigners fought long and hard to get the 03 range of 'inclusive else geographic rate' range of non-geographic numbers made available (Ofcom introduced these in 2007) and an even longer battle to get government departments such as HMRC and DWP to adopt them in place of the premium rate 084 and 087 numbers previously in use.

Ofcom set aside the 034 and 037 ranges for those moving away from the matching 084 or 087 numbers, and 030 for the exclusive use of public services and charities.
http://ask.ofcom.org.uk/help/telephone/public_bodies_0870

Calls to 03 numbers are inclusive from landlines and mobiles else charged at 'geographic rate' - exactly the same as calls to 01 and 02 numbers.
http://ask.ofcom.org.uk/help/telephone/03number
http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/the-cost-of-contacting-08-and-03-telephone-numbers
Revenue sharing is not available on 01, 02 and 03 numbers and the call price is set entirely by the caller's landline or mobile provider.

Over the last couple of years almost all customer services, financial services and public services have adopted them, some only after being forced to do so by guidance from the Cabinet Office or regulation from BIS and FCA.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hmg-guidance-for-customer-service-lin...
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/3134/regulation/41/made
https://www.fca.org.uk/news/ps15-19-improving-complaints-handling

Landline providers charge around five to eight pounds per month for unlimited Anytime calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. Outside of these deals callers pay anything from 2p to 12p per minute plus a connection fee of up to 18p per call.

Mobile providers offer pay-as-you-go bundles with hundreds of minutes of inclusive calls for 5 and many hundreds more for 10. Outside of these deals callers pay anything from 3p to 45p per minute.

The call cost is set entirely by the caller's landline or mobile provider and revenue sharing is not permitted on calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers.

Presumably, most people select the appropriate call plan for their needs. For most people this will be an Anytime call plan on their landline or a call bundle (either contract or pay as you go) large enough to cover all of their calls for one month on their mobile.
http://kenstechtips.com/index.php/cheapest-pay-as-you-go-bundles

HMRC changed their premium 0870 and 0845 lines over to cheaper 0300 and 0345 numbers in several batches between April and October 2013.

DWP changed their 0845 lines over to the matching 0345 numbers on 17 March 2014.

This ended years of usage of premium numbers, numbers where part of the call cost subsidised the additional costs inherent in the usage of a non-geographic number. Moving to 03 numbers ensured that those additional costs were now met by the called party and the caller paid exactly the same as whatever they paid for calls to their family and friends on ordinary 01 and 02 numbers.

DWP offered 0800 numbers for new claims and 0345 numbers for helplines for existing claimants.

As mobile providers charged for calls to 0800 numbers, DWP did a deal (in 2009/2010, or thereabouts) with the mobile networks and paid them extortionate fees to make calls to DWP 0800 numbers also free from mobile phones. Since 1 July 2015, calls to 080 numbers are free from landlines and mobiles. DWP now pays "normal rates" for incoming calls to their 0800 numbers, and the "savings" put towards the additional cost of providing 03 numbers.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-commons-23934512
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« Last Edit: Mar 1st, 2016 at 9:01am by Ian01 »  
 
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #1 - Feb 29th, 2016 at 3:24am
 

DWP policy is to provide 0800 numbers for new claims and 0345 numbers for helplines for existing claimants.

Calls to 0800 numbers are free from landlines and mobiles. Before 1 July 2015, DWP had to pay extortionate additional fees to the main mobile operators to make calls to DWP 0800 numbers free from mobile phones.

Calls to 0345 numbers are inclusive from landlines and mobiles, else charged at geographic rate. Before 17 March 2014 , DWP had been using premium rate 0845 numbers where revenue from callers subsidised the additional cost of providing the non-geographic number.


A recent Written Answer confirmed that DWP generally provides 0800 numbers for new claims and 0345 numbers for helplines, but showed that for UC only an 0345 number is provided as all new claims must be made online.
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2016-02-01.25175.h#g25175.r0
There is NO 0800 number for claiming UC and you cannot make a claim for UC through the 0345 number.

All UC claims must be made online - with one exception. As there is no Welsh language UC website, UC claims in the Welsh language are made on an 0800 number.


In recent weeks a story has developed about the 0345 UC helpline.

Having seen one mobile provider charging 45p per minute on their worst tariff, a recent article claimed that 0345 numbers are premium rate - patently not true. The world has since erupted in indignation that "DWP are charging extortionate amounts" and none focus on the real issue.

The reality is that DWP aren't charging anything. Revenue sharing is not permitted on 03 numbers. The call price is set entirely by the caller's landline or mobile provider and is the same as whatever they pay for calls to family and friends on 01 and 02 numbers. Those who are paying extortionate amounts are being ripped off by their own phone provider as they have chosen or have been advised to go on an unsuitable tariff for their needs.

Who would choose to pay 12p per minute when they can have unlimited calls for 8?

Who would pay 45p per minute when they can have 300 minutes for 5 or 500 minutes for 10?


Many of the stories demand the "claim line be changed to 0800". All of the stories completely miss the point that there is no way to claim UC by telephone as it is an online only process.
16 Feb 2016: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/iain-duncan-smith-charging-poor-7382839
17 Feb 2016: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/iain-duncan-smith-charge-struggling-7...
17 Feb 2016: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/record-view-tories-premium-callousnes...
17 Feb 2016: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/17/iain-duncan-smith-refuses-to-set-...
18 Feb 2016: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/claim-benefits-helpline-number-dwp...
18 Feb 2016: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/audience-participation-is-not-coughing-texti...
18 Feb 2016: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/universal-credit-helpline-charge-c...
18 Feb 2016: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2016/02/universal-credits-costly-he...
22 Feb 2016: http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/feb/22/corrections-and-clarifications

Numerous petitions have started up asking DWP to
- stop using premium rate numbers - they don't,
- change the UC claims line to an 0800 number - there isn't a UC claims line to change the number on,
- make all DWP phone lines free - which still wouldn't address the issue that UC claims are online only.
http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/make-ian-duncan-smith-make-all-phone-commu...
http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/make-the-univeral-credit-claimline-freepho...
http://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/122194
http://repetition.me/petition/ban-all-premium-rate-phone-numbers-for-local-and-n...
http://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/122249
http://repetition.me/petition/stop-charging-premium-phoneline-rates-for-universa...
http://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/123045
http://repetition.me/petition/offer-a-free-phone-line-for-dwp-universal-credit-c...
All have missed the point that new UC claims are online only and none ask for this policy to be reversed.
They are all stuck on the bogus issue that calls to 0345 are "expensive". This is true only where the caller has decided to go for an abysmal tariff.
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« Last Edit: Mar 1st, 2016 at 7:21am by Ian01 »  
 
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #2 - Feb 29th, 2016 at 3:25am
 

We now have an MP claiming that BT has made between 1.49 million and 6.6 million pounds from calls to the UC 0345 helpline but the maths doesn't stack up.
29 Feb 2016: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/28/bt-profiteering-universal-credit-...

A recent House of Commons Written Answer states there has been 2.2 million calls with average duration of 7 minutes 29 seconds.
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-stateme...
This is around 17 million minutes.

If you multiply 17 million minutes by just over 8p per minute (BT's non-inclusive call price without VAT) and add 2.2 million lots of just over 14p (BT's connection fee without VAT) you'll get a figure of 1.54 million. If you're thinking this is BT's revenue, you have misunderstood many things.

Not only have you overlooked the fact that more than 90% of callers will have paid nothing for the call as it fell within their inclusive allowance, you'll have also missed the fact that less than 20% of calls are made from BT landlines. More than 80% of calls to DWP will have originated from some other network... Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin, EE, O2, Three, Vodafone, etc, and they will have billed the caller that used their network.

Multiplying 17 million minutes by 38p per minute (Vodafone's non-inclusive call price without VAT) yields a figure of around 6.6 million. Again, you have overlooked that most calls will have been made as part of an inclusive allowance at zero incremental cost, and quite how Vodafone's call prices are somehow supposed to relate to BT's earnings is a complete mystery. There is no relation. Additionally, Vodafone is unlikely to have carried any more than 15% of calls made and probably substantially less than that. Callers will have mainly used their inclusive allowance. The small number who pay for individual calls will have paid a range of prices from 3p to 45p per minute, depending on provider, and that is what they had already chosen to pay for calls to family and friends.

While most BT customers will have used their inclusive allowance to call the DWP 0345 number, some callers will have paid a per-minute rate to BT for the call. The total of such calls via BT is likely to be much less than 300 000 minutes, and at 10.24p per minute amounts to less than 30K revenue for BT. We are now a very long way from the initial 1.54 million claim.

Other landline and mobile providers will have carried more than 80% of the calls and more than 90% of those calls will have been part of an inclusive allowance. Of the "80%", assuming that 30% were made from landlines and 50% were made from mobiles, these other providers may have seen a total of as much as 45K spread across all of the other landline providers and 200K spread across all of the mobile providers. The real figures are likely to have been substantially less than this.

One thing is clear, anyone paying 12p per minute for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers from their landline or 45p per minute for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers from their mobile is on the wrong call plan for their needs.

DWP could carry out some research to gauge what type of call plan callers have. Ofcom could widen this to a broader base of phone users. This would settle this once and for all.
Ofcom could work with landline and mobile providers to ensure that their customers are on the right call plan, not making hours and hours of chargeable calls when an inclusive allowance would cover the whole lot for far less money.

Landline providers usually advertise "weekend" deals with expensive weekday rates as well as "anytime" deals that cover calls at any time. Most people need "anytime" inclusive calls - even those who make only an hour of calls per month will be better off on an "anytime" deal than paying for each call. More education around this topic is needed.

So far, we have discovered the revenue accumulated by the retail division of BT is in the tens of thousands or less, but are there any other revenue streams that might flow to BT?

There is one, and it's a normal part of the payments made between networks for carrying each other's calls. These payments are so low, they have no bearing on the retail cost of the calls.

This revenue is the Termination Fee paid to the company that hosts the non-geographic number and who then forwards those calls onwards to their eventual destination callcentre. The Termination Fee for 03 numbers is a maximum of 0.56p per minute. This means the 03 number provider will have received a maximum of around 94K in termination fees for the 17 million minutes of incoming calls. In the case of the DWP UC helpline, the non-geographic provider is the business arm of BT. These payments flow irrespective of what the caller paid for the call, they flow even when the call is inclusive in the caller's allowance.

A provider offering "unlimited" inclusive calls for 8 per month will start to lose money on a particular caller if that caller makes more than about 1400 minutes of calls to 03 numbers per month. Very few people make that amount of calls. The Termination Rate and those interconnect payments have little or no bearing on what callers pay for calls.

The real issue has been overlooked in all of this. The issue is that there is NO claims line for UC, all claims must be made online.
DWP should reverse this policy and allow claims for UC to be made by telephone and provide an 0800 number for this.
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« Last Edit: Mar 1st, 2016 at 7:50am by Ian01 »  
 
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #3 - Feb 29th, 2016 at 12:23pm
 

The Fair Telecoms Campaign has issued an Open Message:

http://www.fairtelecoms.org.uk/uploads/1/1/4/5/11456053/understanding_the_real_d...

This focuses on the real issues.
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« Last Edit: Feb 29th, 2016 at 7:10pm by Ian01 »  
 
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #4 - Mar 8th, 2016 at 2:30pm
 

Yet another false claim that 0345 numbers are premium rate...

8 Mar 2016: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/easy-way-avoid-dwps-45p-7514066
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« Last Edit: Mar 8th, 2016 at 2:31pm by Ian01 »  
 
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #5 - Mar 16th, 2016 at 4:53pm
 

Another day, another petition, yet again written by someone that hasn't understood the real issues:

https://www.change.org/p/iain-duncan-smith-provide-free-0800-access-to-all-dwp-d...

Calls to 03 numbers are NOT premium rate.

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« Last Edit: Mar 16th, 2016 at 11:29pm by Ian01 »  
 
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #6 - Mar 18th, 2016 at 3:13am
 

Yet another story that has completely missed the point.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/petition-calls-for-free-phone-line...

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« Last Edit: Mar 18th, 2016 at 3:14am by Ian01 »  
 
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #7 - Mar 21st, 2016 at 11:55pm
 


More of the same... 'calls to 0345 numbers cost 45p per minute from a mobile and 12p per minute from a landline'...

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2016/03/dwp-letters-telling-people-...

Completely failed to understand modern phone tariffs where individual calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers are made at no marginal cost.

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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #8 - Mar 22nd, 2016 at 6:27pm
 
I was pleasantly surprised today to find that my call to an 0345 number (Honda Finance) cost me 5p connection and p per minute (using a BT landline and 18185).
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How can you tell when a lawyer's lying? His (or her) lips move.
 
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #9 - Mar 23rd, 2016 at 7:54am
 

Indeed, and anyone with any sort of inclusive call plan on their landline or on their mobile will find that calls to 03 numbers cost 0p/min.

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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #10 - Mar 29th, 2016 at 4:00pm
 
There's even a change.org petition that perpetuates this misinformation.

https://www.change.org/p/stephen-crabb-provide-free-0800-access-to-all-dwp-depar...
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Ian01
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #11 - Nov 18th, 2016 at 3:04pm
 

Here we go again.

A Scottish MP has revived the discussion by saying that 03 numbers are premium rate, top-rate and a rip-off.

He has spectacularly failed to understand that the call price is set by the caller's landline or mobile provider, is the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers, is usally zero within the allowances of an inclusive call plan, and that these calls are expensive only if the caller has chosen an abysmal call plan.

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/tory-shame-disabled-people-pay-918417...

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/tories-telephone-tax-out-line-91...

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/tories-slammed-not-sorting-premi...

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« Last Edit: Nov 18th, 2016 at 6:43pm by Ian01 »  
 
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #12 - Nov 18th, 2016 at 3:37pm
 
This problem arises by drawing what is perhaps the wrong conclusion from two undoubted facts, as well as adding some misconceptions:

- Some people incur high call charges because of the extended duration of enquiry calls to DWP on 0345 numbers.

- They would pay no call charges if DWP used 0800 numbers for its enquiry lines.

The fact that DWP is prepared to meet the high (and often unnecessary) cost of using 0800 numbers for its initial claims lines and that it used to use 0845 numbers for its enquiry lines adds to the potential for misunderstanding.

Misunderstanding is aided by the fact that the government call cost information - https://www.gov.uk/call-charges - lists 03, 0300 and 0345 as three separate ranges in a different category from 01 and 02 and fails to identify all of these as being covered (together) by all landline and many mobile call plans.

Our campaigning efforts to gently help people to understand the simple truth that one does not generally incur call charges on calls to "ordinary" numbers must continue. We highlight the "penalty charge" incurred for calling ordinary numbers outside the terms of one's chosen call plan (inclusive package or bundle) alongside the "premium charge" incurred for calling many other types of number. It is getting easier, but there is still a long way to go.
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CJT-80
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Re: Calls to DWP UC 0345 numbers are NOT premium rate
Reply #13 - Nov 19th, 2016 at 8:28am
 
I agree that the Gov.uk page gives confusing information regarding the 03 number range.

I have provided feedback to them via this link: https://www.gov.uk/contact/govuk
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CJT-80

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