AN MP campaigning against the use of 0844 and 0845 telephone numbers has accused the government of imposing a 'telephone tax' on the public and has called for a full investigation.

MP John Healey has provided public spending watchdog the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee with a dossier detailing the scale of use of what he calls rip-off phone numbers across government.

He has been campaigning against the use of the numbers by GPs and government departments for the last 18 months and has found nearly two thirds of department and agency phone lines are 084 numbers - which cost up to 41p per minute.

“People have no choice but to make these calls - to get information and help, change details, make claims - but they're being charged rip-off rates to do so.

“Members of the public are subsidising the government’s phone bills to the tune of millions of pounds and phone companies are making a fortune."