UK defense ministry staff rack up £271,000 phone bill – calling directory services

UK defense ministry staff rack up £271,000 phone bill – calling directory services
UK Ministry of Defense staff have landed themselves a £271,000 bill after making incessant phone calls to the national Directory Enquiries service, according to new figures. That equates to some 186 times a day.

A new Freedom of Information request has revealed that ministry staff made 158,640 requests to ‘118’ numbers – which put callers in touch with directory services – since the last parliamentary election in 2010. This means that on average, MoD staff would have to be calling the service about 186 times a day.

Staff from the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions called the same Directory Enquiries service 97,265 times over the same period, at a cost of £72,387 to taxpayers, according to figures obtained by Sky News.

“Calls to Directory Enquiries from the majority of the 260,000 MoD fixed phone lines are banned, but some staff working in isolated locations, who do not have access to a military phone network or the Internet, are able to call directory enquiries to obtain contact details,” an MoD spokesperson said.

“Calls…from fixed phone lines have fallen by over 75 per cent in the last four years and we are working to further reduce the number of calls made.”

The news comes amid cuts in defense spending of 8 percent, with the army planning to cut 20,000 jobs and the air force 10,000. On Saturday, the Daily Telegraph cited military sources as saying that an “overzealous” austerity drive was also leaving the armed forces without vital equipment.

In August, it was revealed that MoD staff spent about £40,000 calling the UK’s speaking clock – a recorded message that gives the exact time to the second – 158,640 times in the previous two years. The MoD introduced a ban on ringing the service last year.