The government has agreed to drop charges on calls made from mobile phones to the Child Maintenance Options helpline.
The helpline offers advice and guidance for parents dealing with child maintenance issues following a separation.
Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb announced that the government was “currently finalising arrangements with the six major mobile network providers to make the [service] free to call from their networks”.
The move is being seen as a U-turn by the Department of Work and Pensions as, back in March, the Minister said there were “no discussions” being held on making calls from mobiles free of charge.
Previously, calls from mobile phones to the helpline could cost as much as 41 pence per minute, whereas landline calls were always free.
Single parent charity Gingerbread called the U-turn “a victory for families”.
Fiona Weir, the charity’s chief executive, said:
“This is a government service that hundreds of thousands of parents will have no choice but to call. At 41 pence a minute, the costs for families are eye watering, so we are pleased that the government has reconsidered its position.”
The telecommunications regulator Ofcom had introduced new rules which would make all 0800 numbers free regardless of what type of phone was being used, but that would not come into effect until next June.
David Hickson, of the Fair Telecoms Campaign, said:
“The DWP is to be congratulated for … taking the necessary action now for all of its 0800 numbers; omission of the CMO lines appears to have been a mistake, which has thankfully now been corrected.”
Photo by Chris Dlugosz via Flickr