Mayor of Greater Manchester calls on phone companies to cut costs for elderly customers

Andy Burnham is calling on phone companies to cut the bills of older and vulnerable landline telephone customers during the lockdown.

The move comes after the Mayor of Greater Manchester participated in his weekly "hot seat" on BBC Radio Manchester and he spoke to Mary, who explained that her landline is her only way of communicating with the outside world.

She said: "I have no computer, the same as thousands of other elderly people.

"[As customers] we are all very concerned that at the end of all this our telephone bills, if we do try to communicate with people, are going to be astronomical."

Mary, who is in her 80s, challenged the Mayor and the telecommunications sector to come to the aid of all older people, and those vulnerable at this time, and to cap the cost of landline phone bills.

Phone companies and the Government recently announced a package of measures to "support vulnerable customers" including free calls from landlines and mobiles, however, there is no standardised approach.

Andy said: "Mary’s call on today’s Hot Seat on BBC Radio Manchester really hit home. It is such an important point and she raised something that has been on my mind.

"My parents are in a similar position to Mary, having not left the house for some time.

"The deeper we get into this crisis the more difficult it will become for people experiencing the effects of isolation, and the more they will need contact with other people

"Therefore, it is important to welcome the commitment of the telecommunications industry in working to change their practices to make life easier for vulnerable people at this challenging time.

"However, the sector and the Government should go further and extend the support to all people aged over 75 – they should be supported and have a cap placed on their monthly landline bills."

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority have said that they will be talking to Ofcom and working with landline providers to "update providers databases and vastly extend the support on offer to vulnerable customers".