Environment Agency pressured over costly helplineFlood victims charged up to 41p a minute

04 February 2014

Cars trapped in flood

The Environment Agency has scrapped its premium rate flood helpline, following pressure from the Prime Minister.

David Cameron yesterday called for the 0845 line to quickly be replaced with a cheaper alternative, after it was revealed that some flood victims were being charged 41p a minute to call for help.

Environment Agency officials had previously suggested that their Floodline number wouldn't change until the summer.

Instead, it was changed to a standard rate number - 0345 9881188 - within hours of Mr Cameron's call to action.

Which? is now calling for the FCA to ban all financial services, including insurers, from forcing customers to call premium rate phone lines in order to receive assistance. You can support this campaign by signing our online petition.

Which? calls for all government bodies to drop premium rate helplines 

Thousands of residents living in severely flooded parts of the UK previously had no choice but to pay the premium rate phone number in order to request help.

In response to this news, Which? executive director Richard Lloyd called for hasty action to right these wrongs.

'This adds insult to injury for flood victims, who should not be left out of pocket when calling for advice. Government bodies must now play fair and drop 0845 lines across the board as soon as possible,' he said.  

Environment Agency defends use of premium rate phone numbers

The Environment Agency was keen to make it clear that it made no profit from the use of its 0845 Floodline and that all revenue went to a private company.  

The new 0345 number had already been set up and was operational, but Environment Agency bosses had ruled that it was 'not appropriate' to actively promote it during a flooding crisis.  

Speaking to a Westminster media briefing on Monday, Mr Cameron's spokesman said: 'The Prime Minister is very clear that the use of premium rate lines should be scrapped as quickly as it possibly can be, specifically in this instance.'

Those affected by flooding could benefit from reading our top tips to claiming on their home insurance.   

More on this...

  • Costly calls campaign - sign our petition
  • Home emergency insurance - our extensive guide 
  • Flooding and subsidence - is your home at risk?