Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has secured assurances regarding nuisance calls from the Scottish Government and plans to seek similar commitments from the UK Government.
This follows concerns being raised with Mr McArthur about a high volume of automated phone calls to constituents regarding a government boiler scrappage and replacement scheme. Orkney’s MSP wrote to Scottish Ministers highlighting these concerns and has been assured by Kevin Stewart MSP, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, that Scottish Government schemes “do not rely on cold calling”. The Minister added “we [the Scottish Government] certainly do not pay companies to engage any of those practices”.
It is understood, however, that the UK Government does have schemes which use cold calling, prompting Mr McArthur to take up the issue with Mr Stewart’s counterparts at a UK level.
Responding to the letter, Mr McArthur welcomed those assurances but renewed calls on the Scottish Government to publish an action plan on the next steps required to end nuisance calls. The Orkney MSP also indicated he would now take the concerns raised by constituents to the UK Government.
Mr McArthur said:
“Despite new initiatives over the years, nuisance phone calls continue to cause problems for many people. These calls are nothing short of harassment, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society, and more needs to be done to crack down on them.
“Government has a role to play in achieving this reduction, and certainly should not be doing anything to make the situation worse. While raising public awareness of government-backed schemes to help people fund improvements in home insulation or central heating systems is legitimate, it should not be allowed to add to the problems of nuisance calls.
“I welcome the Scottish Government’s assurances that it does not use cold calling to promote its schemes and will be seeking a similar commitment from the UK Government.
“Meantime, these most recent incidents act as a reminder that further action is needed. For example, legislation to make accurate Caller Line Identification mandatory is long overdue. Not only would this allow people to screen calls, but also to report companies guilty of wrong doing.”
The Orkney MSP also added a message for people in Orkney to “be vigilant and avoid giving away personal information over the phone.”