Cheaper flooding helpline introduced after 0845 criticism
The Environment Agency has introduced a cheaper nationwide telephone helplines for flooding victims after criticism over a premium rate number that cost up to 41p a minute, with the money going to a private firm.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said the 0345 helpline had been set up "for testing purposes" in November 2013 but had not been publicised "as we did not want confuse the public and jeopardise public safety" during the heightened flooding risk.
Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than national rate calls to 01 or 02 numbers, regulator Ofcom said.
David Cameron wants the use of premium rate telephone helplines for flooding victims to be ended "as quickly as it possibly can be", Downing Street has said.
Householders calling the 0845 number, which was set up by the Environment Agency (EA), are having to pay up to 41p a minute, with the money going to a private firm.
Speaking to reporters at a Westminster media briefing, Mr Cameron's official spokesman said the premium-rate helpline number would not be scrapped immediately, and victims of flooding should continue to use it.
But he said: "The Prime Minister is very clear that the use of premium rate lines should be scrapped as quickly as it possibly can be."