Scottish Government pledges £50,000 to help tackle nuisance calls
The funding for call-blocking technology is part of a national nuisance calls action plan
Phonecall - Image credit: PA Images
The Scottish Government has launched new measures to help people tackle nuisance phonecalls.
This includes a £50,000 fund for those most at risk from nuisance or scam callers to install call-blocking technology.
Research from Which? found that Scots receive more nuisance calls than any other part of Europe, and that nine out of 10 Scottish households received an unwanted call within a one month period and three-quarters felt discouraged from answering their phone.
The fund is one element of a national nuisance calls action plan, which aims to raise awareness and help people to protect themselves from scam callers.
The plan also outlines actions to develop a strategy for tackling scams in general, update the Scottish Government Business Pledge with a commitment to support vulnerable customers and to develop best practice for organisations involved with any new public-facing Scottish Government schemes to adhere to.
In addition, Economy Secretary Keith Brown has written to the UK Government calling for it to take action to reduce the volume of nuisance calls, which is a reserved matter.
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The action plan was launched this morning at the Which? Nuisance Call Roadshow in Glasgow Central Station by Economy Secretary Keith Brown, the start of a week of awareness raising around nuisance calls.
Brown said: “Nuisance calls disproportionately affect people in Scotland. They often target the elderly and the vulnerable and have the potential to be very harmful.
“Although there is no easy solution to this problem, our action plan contains a range of measures to raise awareness of nuisance calls, make it easier for people to identify them and take action to protect themselves.
“Our fund to install call-blocking technology for our most vulnerable citizens is one such measure.
“The power to regulate in this area lies with the UK Government.
“I have written to the Secretary of State for Culture to call for greater action to reduce the volume of nuisance calls, including exploring a model which automatically opts people out of unwanted calls.”
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, added: “Scots continue to receive more nuisance calls than the rest of the UK, and the Scottish Government’s action plan should deliver positive changes to ensure people are no longer bombarded by these unwelcome calls.
"Which? has long campaigned for action to be taken against this everyday menace that can intimidate and discourage people from answering their phones.
“We're delighted to be part of the week of action on this issue to help people tackle these unwanted calls."
The plan was welcomed by local government organisation COSLA.
COSLA’s spokesperson for community wellbeing and chair of the Trading Standards Scotland Governance Board Councillor Kelly Parry said: “I warmly welcome the launch of the Nuisance Calls Action Plan today, which clearly demonstrates the importance of partnership working.
“In addition, I am glad that Scottish Government recognises the previous good work of Trading Standards services in Scotland in disseminating call blockers.
“And I welcome the opportunity for the service to disseminate a further 500 devices in partnership with social work, healthcare and charitable agencies working with the vulnerable.
“The call blockers don’t just help those who receive them; the devices record the numbers they block, enabling Trading Standards to work with the Information Commissioner’s Office to identify and tackle the perpetrators.”
The action against nuisance callers also has the support of Citizens Advice Scotland.
Susan McPhee, Head of Policy for Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “Nuisance calls are far too common today, and affect huge numbers of people in Scotland.
“One of our roles in the CAB network is to safeguard peoples’ rights as consumers, and one of those rights is that you don’t need to put up with phone calls that you don’t want.
“Nuisance calls include any kind of unwanted sales or marketing call. People find these irritating or even distressing.
“But in this campaign our message is that you really can fight back.
“There are simple actions you can take to cut the number of calls considerably, and even stop them altogether.”
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