EDM of the week: Phoning the government costs too much

June 7, 2009 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

13 MPs have backed an Early Day Motion calling on the government to reduce the high cost of calls to government helplines such as the benefit claim line.

John Battle, Labour MP for Leeds West, tabled the EDM:

“That this House notes with concern the high cost of calls to Government helplines from mobile telephones; recognises that many people only have access to a mobile telephone and do not have a landline and therefore have no choice but to pay these high call costs;

“Further notes the recent Citizens Advice Bureau report, Hung Up, which provided evidence from 65 citizens advice bureaux that many vulnerable and destitute people are unable to claim a crisis loan because of the expense of calling the Government freephone claim line on a mobile telephone;

“Recognises that it is possible to make freephone numbers free to call from a mobile telephone, for example by registering the numbers with the Telephone Helplines Association; and calls on the Government urgently to ensure that its benefit claim lines, and in particular its crisis loans claim line, are made free to call from a mobile telephone.”

So far 12 have signed up.

Hung Up reveals that people without access to landlines are forced to pay up to 40p per minute to call ‘08’ government numbers that would be low cost or even free to call from a landline.

People calling government lines are often kept on hold for long periods of time, racking up hugely expensive phone bills, which they struggle to afford.

The report argues that government is unfairly penalising mobile phone users, who often have low incomes, and charging extortionate rates for essential services that should be low cost or free.

Other EDMs this week include one congratulating explorer Bear Grylls on being named Chief Scout and another concerned at reports that a gay pride rally in Moscow was violently ended by police officers.

Early Day Motions can be put forward by any MP. Almost none of them are actually debated.

MPs use them to draw attention to specific events or campaigns or to express a view on a wide range of issues.

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Entry filed under: Commons. Tags: , , , , , , .

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