Special Freephone Tariff Update


Helplines are justifiably concerned about the impact of telecoms price rises. After staffing, these can be the biggest area of helpline expenditure.

Wider changes in the telecoms sector as a result of the non-geographic numbering changes have made the future for the Special Freephone Tariff (SFT) uncertain. Helplines Partnership (HLP) has been campaigning to ensure helplines can continue to access affordable free to caller pricing. This is essential to enable helplines to continue supporting vulnerable callers. The process has been extremely complex and time consuming - unfortunately a final agreement has still not been reached.

Many major telecoms providers understand the need for SFT to continue to be affordable, and have committed their support. However, for the SFT scheme to stay as it currently is, we need to have agreement across a range of organisations, and at this stage one mobile network and one SFT supplier network have not confirmed their support. This could potentially jeopardise the scheme.

HLP is aware that some SFT providers are now communicating details of planned prices rises for SFT numbers. We fully understand the impact this will have on helpline services, and are continuing to fight for a deal that will enable SFT to remain at its current affordable level.

At the time of writing, HLP is in continued communication with telecoms providers and we are due to meet with the regulator, Ofcom on 11 June.

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