Freephone numbers are being implemented by Liverpool City Council for calls to the Revenues and Benefits Service.
The new system is being introduced from Monday 3 February and covers enquiries for issues including housing benefit, council tax support, free school meals and benefits maximisation advice.
The numbers and the services they will be used for are:
0800 028 3686 Council tax, community charge, business rates, corporate debt, overpayment of housing benefit, Business Improvement District
0800 028 3697 Benefits, free school meals and Benefits Maximisation Service
0800 121 8805 Benefits Fraud Hotline
0800 456 1523 Liverpool Citizen Support Scheme
0800 028 3707 Fairer Charging and Direct Payments for adult social care
Mayor Joe Anderson said: “All the evidence we have is showing that the poorest people in our city are suffering as a result of the welfare reforms and the austerity measures.
“It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to support those who are being affected by making it as easy as possible to get in touch with the council. We want people to get in touch if they need advice over benefits, or are having problems paying their council tax.”
“We don’t want people not getting in touch with us because they are worried about the cost of making a call.
“This is part of the council’s commitment to helping those who are most in need, which has also included setting up the Tackling Poverty Action Group, supporting food banks through the Mayor’s Hope Fund and giving £1 million to credit unions to try and stop people turning to loan sharks.”
The council’s letters, bills and website are being updated with the new information on.
Some mobile operators do charge for 0800 calls, but this is beyond the control of the council. Alternative landline numbers are being printed on letters, bills and the council’s website so that people with mobiles aren’t disadvantaged.
All the existing numbers will remain in use for three months.
Additional staff are also being employed by the Benefits Maximisation team to help people affected by welfare reforms.
The Revenues and Benefits Service is delivered by Liverpool Direct Limited, a joint venture between Liverpool City Council and BT.