The clear guidance from the Cabinet Office in December 2013 is likely to result in the vast majority of 084 and 087 usage by government departments ending by the close of 2014. Most departments are already well on the way. The remainder are likely to receive increasingly negative attention from the media, especially after 13 June 2014.
Not before time this, the craziest thing was that 0870 started off as National Rate and 0845 Local Rate years ago, then when telecom companies effectively stopped distinguishing between local and national rates, the 0870 became cheaper than 0845 which seems to be far more widely used.
0845 stopped being "local rate" and 0870 stopped being "national rate" in 2004. That was when BT abolished the price differential based on distance when calling 01 and 02 numbers and moved their customers onto inclusive call plans. Thereafter, calls to 01 and 02 numbers, each of up to one hour long, attracted no further incremental charge. This is what the note is referring to.
The changes in 2004 instantly made 084 and 087 calls relatively expensive compared to calling (inclusive) 01 and 02 numbers. This is one of the reasons Ofcom introduced 03 numbers in 2007. However, these were not adequately promoted and uptake was quite low.
Calls to 0870 numbers from landlines became cheaper in 2009 when Ofcom suspended revenue sharing. However, mobile operators, in the main, did not drop their prices. Many users simply migrated to 0844 and 0871 numbers in order to continue receiving revenue share payments. Consumers had gained nothing. Upon seeing this, Ofcom held back from removing revenue sharing from 0845 numbers. They realised it would prompt a similar migration.
Consumers were also becoming confused. 0845 and 0870 calls were cheap from landlines and expensive from mobiles and all other 084 and 087 calls were expensive from landlines and from mobiles. In 2010, Ofcom instigated a major review of all 084, 087 and 09 numbers. Several consultations and four years later, work is proceeding on the "unbundled tariff" system which comes into effect on 26 June 2015. One of the changes is that revenue sharing returns to 0870 numbers on that date. The Service Charge is likely to be around 10p/min. At the same time, calls to 080 numbers will become free from all mobile phones and the provisions of the "NTS Retail Condition" will be lifted from BT.
A large number of 0845 numbers are still promoted as "local rate" even though this has not been true for a decade. Ofcom's new tariff system, where users of 0845 numbers will be required to declare the 2p/min Service Charge, should go a long way in eradicating this issue. In the meantime other legislation, regulation, guidance and policy is moving large numbers of 084 and 087 users over to cheaper numbers, often in the 03 range. One crucial part of that is the new law coming into force on 13 June 2014.