Citizens Advice bureaux will cease using premium rate numbers

The Daily Mail today accused the charity of 'cashing in' by charging callers up to 62p a minute

Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice

< This article has been amended; see final paragraph

Citizens Advice has said that several local bureaux using premium rate phone numbers that can cost callers up to 62p a minute will adopt a cheaper number.

The Daily Mail today accused the charity of "cashing in on pensioners and hard-up families" by charging premium rates to call for advice.

Michele Shambrook, director of operations at Citizens Advice, the national body for bureaux in England and Wales, said the charity had already delivered a commitment to changing its national phone lines from a 084 number to a much cheaper 034 number by September 2014.

A spokesman for Citizens Advice said the 034 number charged callers at standard rates and was free for many people.

The spokesman confirmed that at least 19 local bureaux used a 084 number, which can cost 62p a minute depending factors such as the caller’s phone contract and whether the call was made from a landline or a mobile phone.

Several of the bureaux using the premium line cover some of the UK’s most deprived communities, including Lewisham, Hackney and Whitechapel in London, Salford, north-east Doncaster and south Tyneside, the spokesman said.

About 94 per cent of the 338 local bureaux, which are independent charities, have already changed to 034 numbers, said Shambrook, with some of the remaining bureaux likely to adopt the new number before the end of the year.

The rest are expected to move to using an 034 number "in the near future", the spokesman said.

As Citizens Advice is a network of independent Citizens Advice bureaux, it is up to the local branches to make their own arrangements for moving to the 034 number.

"Citizens Advice helped 2.7 million people last year through our range of advice services," said Shambrook.

"As a charity we’re committed to making our advice as accessible as possible and provide free advice through face-to-face appointments, email, web chat and online. 

"Anyone calling our national phone numbers or the majority of local services will be dialling a local rate number, which depending on the caller’s tariff will be free or the standard rate for landline or mobile calls."

< The headline originally said 'Citizens Advice pledges to end the use of premium rate phone calls' but the charity began ending the use of premium rates calls in 2014

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