Pricey County Council phone numbers are set to be replaced in a bid to help Lancashire’s most vulnerable.
Cabinet members agreed to change 0845 numbers, used to contact services across the council’s 12 area codes, with cheaper 0300 numbers by April 1.
Calls to 0845 numbers are not included in any ‘free minutes’ packages that most landline and mobile phone operators offer, and customers incur costs of between 21p and 41p per minute.
Calls to 0300 numbers would cost the same as calls to geographic numbers starting 01 or 02, and are typically included as part of any inclusive minutes or discount schemes.
Deputy leader, Councillor David Borrow said: “This affects a lot of people, particularly the most vulnerable and those in crisis, and I don’t think it’s right to charge them above the local rates to contact the council.”
A council report states: “The costs to implement the new 0300 numbering strategy will be funded from the existing resources which the County Council uses to pay for the 0845 number allocation.
“There will be no cost to the County Council for diverting calls.”
In 2012/2013 the council’s call centre took 777,497 calls, lasting for over four million minutes.