Kablenet reports that
Poor people often have great problems in
obtaining information and services from government because of a shift
away from face-to-face contact, according to a new study.
The National Consumer Council (NCC) has
found that disadvantaged people have a preference for personal
interaction with benefits agencies or their local council. But the
rapid growth in public sector call centres means they often have little
choice but to use them.
Experiences of having to make multiple
calls, being unable to speak to someone with the authority to deal with
their problem, repeating the same information to several different
people each time they call, being left on hold for long periods and
finding that promised actions were not followed up were all common
The NCC’s findings are based on eight three
hour forums held during last year, when groups of people from poorer
parts of Britain were invited to give their views on contact with
public and private sector services.
But there is no sign of anything about it yet on the NCC web site – sounds as though it should be worth looking out for. To add to the sense of mystery, Kablenet ends by noting that "The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform had responded on the findings" – but then stops dead, without saying anything at all about what the response might have been. And for opaque consistency, no obvious trace of any of that on the DBERR web site either.