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  1. Chris Ship

Ukraine brief shows allies don't speak with one voice

These documents are certainly tricky, they are not very helpful. It makes it look like Britain and her allies are not speaking with one voice when it comes to the threats of trade sanctions.

As much as I am surprised that these documents can still be photographed going in and out of that door -- and they are certainly not the first ones, it does prove that you get a different approach in the public and in the private.

The document was photographed in the hands of officials heading into No 10 Credit: @Politicalpics

In fact, there is even a line in here, which says that they should stick to generic messages in the public realm and that sanctions should be reserved for private messaging to Mr Putin himself.

Tonight Mr Cameron spoke to both the leaders of France and Germany, they are all preparing for this emergency EU summit on Thursday. But the thing is, when you see things like this, you do have to wonder what sort of consequences 28 members of the EU could agree on.

Report: Govt departments in £17m credit card splurge

Government departments and bodies have spent almost £17 million on credit cards, the Sunday Times (£) has reported.

According to the newspaper, the spending includes stays at expensive hotels, pub lunches, jewellery and even a £70 bill for a bunny outfit.

Government spending on credit cards reaches '£17m'. Credit: PA

The information was reportedly previously hidden because government departments, regulators and quangos only publish details of individual payments on cards of more than £500.

Using freedom of information rules, the newspaper asked 33 government bodies for details of all payments below £500 on government procurement cards (GPCs) and other publicly funded credit cards.

Ten departments, including the Home Office, HMRC, the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet Office refused to release the data while others provided only partial information.

Higher rate calls: departments 'don't monitor revenues'

Central government departments "do not have a clear idea" of how much their services benefit from higher rate numbers, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

Callers to central government departments spent £56 million on calls last year. Credit: PA

Although none of the departments reviewed keeps revenue directly from higher rate lines, many of them receive deductions in the cost of other services instead.

But the report said departments don't monitor the revenues that the third party providers receive, despite guidance from the Cabinet Office.

The report said: "In some cases departments have foregone revenue without being able to demonstrate a corresponding benefit either to callers or departments themselves."

Premium government calls: how much do they cost?

Government services have been found to be using premium rate lines for most of the calls they receive, costing callers an estimated £56 million last year.

But how much are you likely to be charged for a phone call to a public service?

Almost two-thirds (63%) of calls are made to 0844/0845 numbers, known as higher rate numbers, which are generally not included in mobile phone packages.

  • 0844 numbers have an average cost per minute of 5.6p from landlines and 17.1p from mobiles.
  • 0845 numbers cost on average 4.2p per minute from landlines and 17.6p from mobiles.

A further 15% of calls to government services are made to so-called Freephone numbers, which start with the prefix 080. Again, these are also not usually included within 'free minutes'.

  • Freephone numbers are indeed free from landlines.
  • But from mobiles they cost an average of 16.2p per minute.
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