The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will start to introduce alternative 0345 phone numbers for its major call lines from March 2014, helping cut costs of telephone calls for the public.
The 0345 phone numbers will be introduced for most main telephone lines, including State Pension Enquiries and the Carers Allowance Unit. The other 0345 lines are expected to be introduced in the coming months.
The DWP will continue to offer 0845 numbers as well as these can still cost less for some callers. We already use freephone 0800 numbers for all major benefit claim lines, including the State Pension and key benefits.
Department for Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey said:
Our new 0345 numbers will save money for many of our callers, particularly for those using a mobile phone. We will keep the existing 0845 numbers, as our research shows that this can still be the cheaper option, particularly for landline users.
It is only fair that people have the opportunity to choose which number is best for them.
The 0345 and 0845 numbers will be offered for enquiry calls which typically take less time. The cost of calling either a 0845 or 0345 number depends on the terms of an individual’s mobile or landline phone contract.
Claimants who need to use an 0345 or 0845 number can also request a call back from an adviser if they are concerned about the cost of a call.
A recent Public Accounts Committee report, Charges for customer telephone lines, about call costs to government helplines recommended “… that 03 numbers are available for all government telephone lines within 6 to 12 months, prioritising any which predominantly serve vulnerable and low-income groups.”
The move by DWP is in line with Cabinet Office guidance that Departments should offer 03 or alternative numbers so callers get the best deal they can.
The Public Accounts Committee report Charges for customer telephone lines published on 11 November 2013, outlines their recommendations.
DWP Welsh language 0845 phone lines will also have a 0345 number introduced.
Read HMG guidance for customer service lines, published by Cabinet Office.
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