Rip-off 0845 Helplines.

Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Premium Rates for Claimants.

One of the many annoying things about benefits is that when you make inquiries you now have to use the phone: there’s nobody you can see in person.

Transfer not made?


Query about your claim.


Housing Benefit claim worry.


Council Tax (now we all to pay a percentage, a cut in our benefits nobody seems to talk about).


Many unemployed people do not have a land-line and use their mobiles.

This can often mean a long-wait at a high charge.

Now we know that these prices still provide a nice little earner for those offering the ‘service’…..

Welfare Weekly reports today.

Millions of Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable people are being “fleeced” by rip-off 0845 helplines, it has been reported today.

According to a report by the Daily Mirror, figures uncovered by Labour MP Frank Field show than pensioners…

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One Response to Rip-off 0845 Helplines.

  1. Ian says:

    03 numbers

    Calls to 03 numbers are always charged at exactly the same rate as whatever you pay for calls to 01 and 02 numbers. If you have inclusive calls to 01 and 02 numbers the allowance will also cover calls to 03 numbers. These rules apply to landlines and to mobiles. Revenue sharing is not permitted with 03 numbers and the call cost is set entirely by the caller’s provider. The additional call handling costs that come with a non-geographic number are paid in full by the called party.

    Most people no longer pay for individual calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. Instead, they purchase a monthly allowance, package or bundle of anytime inclusive calls on their landline or on their mobile. Where an inclusive allowance hasn’t been purchased these calls are charged at ‘geographic rate’. If you are paying extortionate rates for calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers then you are on the wrong call plan or with the wrong provider.

    084 and 087 numbers

    Calls to 084 and 087 numbers have a cost that is made up of two parts. One is the charge by the caller’s provider to connect and convey the call. The other is the charge set by the organisation being called and which is used to offset the additional call handling costs they incur for running a non-geographic number. For calls to 0845 numbers this latter charge is currently around 2p per minute and hidden within the overall advertised call price. For other 084 numbers this is up to 7p per minute of which several pence per minute may be paid out as ‘revenue share’.

    From 1 July 2015, the two components will have to be separately declared as the Access and Service charges. You will be able to see how much your phone company is charging to make the call and how much the organisation you are calling is making from the call. Accordingly, in December 2013 (just two weeks after Ofcom pre-announced the new charging scheme) the Cabinet Office told government departments and their agencies to change their 084 and 087 lines over to the matching 034 and 037 numbers or to new 030 numbers. Most have now complied. DWP changed most of their lines in March 2014.

    DWP and 0845

    DWP has retained the old 0845 lines, operating in parallel to the new 0345 numbers, for one simple reason. Callers using BT Weekend or BT Evening and Weekend do not have inclusive calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers in the daytime on weekdays. On those two call plans, BT charges calls to 0845 numbers at a discounted rate which is cheaper than calling an 01, 02 or 03 number. The only other occasion where 0845 is cheaper to call than 01, 02 or 03 is if you are on Vodafone pay as you go. These anomalies may well come to an end on 1 July 2015 at which point DWP will make a decision to switch off the 0845 lines and retain only 03 and 080 numbering.

    0845 numbers vs. 01, 02, 03 numbers

    In those cases where calling 0845 numbers appears to be cheaper than calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers it is likely that those callers are paying too much for all of their calls. They would be much better off if they switched to a deal with inclusive calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers at any time of the day and on any day of the week.

    If you do not have BT Broadband then BT Home Phone Saver offers that for £3 per month more than the cost of BT Line Rental. If you do have BT broadband then BT Anytime is needed. It only takes about 40 to 50 minutes per month of chargeable calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers for the Anytime package to work out cheaper than paying 10p per minute for those calls.

    080 numbers

    Calls to 080 numbers are free from landlines but, at the moment, are generally charged from mobiles, but with some important exceptions. Calls to numbers starting 0808 188 and 0808 80 belong to various charities and are free to call from almost all mobile phones. Calls to DWP 0800 numbers are also free to call from most mobile phones. DWP pays extortionate fees to the mobile operators to make that happen.

    Calls to all 080 numbers (but not to 0500 numbers) will become free from all mobile phones on 1 July 2015. DWP’s bill will massively decrease from that date. This anticipated reduction in their telephony costs has freed up the funds to pay for the introduction of 0300 and 0345 numbers to replace the 0845 numbers.

    Ofcom made 03 numbers available in 2007. Government has been very slow to make the change but it is now happening. Those that fail to move to 03 numbers by 1 July 2015 will be required to declare the Service Charge for their 084 and 087 lines.

    Clear Call Rates

    The new call charging system for 084, 087 and 09 numbers coming into effect on 1 July 2015 is described at

    Going forward it should become increasingly rare to have to call 084 and 087 numbers. Most calls will be to 01, 02 and 03 numbers within an inclusive allowance or to 080 numbers at no cost to the caller. It is important that callers make sure they are on the best deal for calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers.

    It is also important to check the official website of whoever you are calling to make sure you have the right number. Many organisations have moved to new numbers in the last year or so. It is pointless and potentially costly to call the 084 or 087 number printed on old paperwork. There’s a good chance there’s now a cheaper 03 number available.

    The NHS

    NHS GP practices, NHS dental practices and NHS opticians are largely banned from using 084, 087 or 09 numbers. They should be using 01, 02 and 03 numbers.

    Retailers, traders and passenger transport companies

    New regulations came into force on 13 June 2014 requiring post sales helpines used by retailers, traders and passenger transport services to use 01, 02, 03 and 080 numbers.

    Financial Services

    The FCA will shortly publish regulation banning the use of 084 and 087 numbers by banks and insurance companies. They will have to provide 01, 02, 03 and 080 numbers.

    Local rate

    A distinct ‘local rate’ (a cheaper rate for a local call) for calls to 01 and 02 numbers ceased to exist in 2004. This is when the price difference between local and non-local calls was scrapped and callers moved on to call plans with inclusive allowances.

    Calls to 084 and 087 numbers are generally non-inclusive and charged at a different rate to calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. Calls to 084 and 087 numbers must never be described as, or imply, ‘local rate’, ‘lo-call’, ‘low call rate’ or ‘national rate’. All of those terms are misleading. Advertising Standards issued a note about this in September 2005.


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