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Dundee LibDems slam government's 'Faceless Britain'

March 8, 2008 9:56 AM
Mobile phone

Dundee LibDems slam government's 'Faceless Britain'

Dundee Liberal Democrats have today (Saturday 8th March) given their support to a campaign launched by party leader Nick Clegg against 'Faceless Britain', the Labour Westminster Government's increasing reliance on remote call centres to provide essential services, many to the most vulnerable citizens.

Research by the LibDems shows that the increasing use of call centres has resulted in the cost being shunted to the user, especially the poorest who have no choice but to call from a mobile phone. The outcomes of this research shows :

· Nearly a quarter of people earning under £11,500 don't have access to a landline, that amounts to over 2 million people

· Call centres for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are costing mobile phone customers up to £400 million a year

· The cost of an average call to Jobcentre Plus Benefits (40-50 mins) on a mobile can be equal to half a week's Jobseeker's Allowance for someone aged over 25.

Mr Clegg has met with mobile phone companies, Citizens Advice and telecoms regulator Ofcom in a bid to find ways to end charging for such calls and said afterwards, "So-called "freephone" or local numbers are a prohibitively expensive option for the millions of callers who are reliant on mobile phones.

'"Amid soaring tariffs and restrictive call packages, people who can't afford a landline often find themselves being charged more than a week's Jobseeker's Allowance just to make a claim for the benefits owed to them."

Locally, here in Dundee, LibDem City Council Group Leader, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, said, "It is deeply concerning that £400 million a year is being spent on calls to 'free' numbers operated for the Department for Work and Pensions - which charge for calls from mobiles. Most of these calls are made by people with limited financial means, and it is worrying that the Westminster Government has sanctioned such an approach."

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