£140m bill for public sector translation

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles Eric Pickles wants translation costs reduced

Many councils say they are struggling to cut the cost of translation services for migrants.

The government wants local authorities to reduce the amount spent on translating documents for non-English speakers.

Latest estimates suggest that £140m a year is spent on translation by the UK public sector as a whole.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: "If people can't speak English, particularly migrants, they are at a disadvantage because they won't be able to integrate into British society, get a job and get off benefits."

Lincolnshire has seen a large number of migrant workers settle in the county in recent years - the majority from Eastern Europe.

I met Juarate Matulioniene, a leading figure in Boston's Lithuanian community.

She told me that the majority of migrants wanted to learn English, but sometimes they needed a helping hand.

Ms Matulioniene said: "Translation is very important in an emergency, when we go to hospitals and when children go to school and they don't know a word."

Lincolnshire County Council spends £155,000 a year on translation services.

UKIP councillors have called for the programme to be scrapped and the money re-invested in frontline services.

Legal duty

Conservative deputy leader of the county council Patricia Bradwell says the authority has done all it can to reduce the cost of translation, but it has a legal duty to ensure that some documents are accessible in different languages.

Speaking to the Sunday Politics in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Councillor Bradwell said: "We have seen an increase in the number of children coming into care and that has led to court proceedings.

"All documents that go into court have to be translated and we also have to provide an interpreter for families whose first language is not English."

Some local authorities claim the decision to switch responsibility for public health from the NHS to councils has also put greater emphasis on the need to translate leaflets into foreign languages.

Tim Iredale, Political editor, Yorkshire & Lincolnshire Article written by Tim Iredale Tim Iredale Political editor, Yorkshire & Lincolnshire

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  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Gryphon this is not a debate about British people not having another language. It's all about people from other countries, speaking other languages, coming to another country, ostensibly to live and work. If I went to another country to live and work, I would not expect to get very far if I did not learn to speak the language of that country, ideally before I actually applied to go there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Pickled’s Tory Party signed up to join the EEC. John Major signed the Maastricht Treaty and it’s now the Home Office Borders Agency that lets all the immigrants in. So the Tories created the problem. And translation is just a fraction of the bill – what about housing and other services immigrants need? The biggest problem that local government faces is Tory central government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg, if you take account of Police NHS immigration services and the cost to education the bill must be much higher. It may be our legal duty to provide documentation but translation to all languages! no other EU country goes this far.

    A multi cultural society maybe? But, multi lingual at what expense.

    Perhaps this is an area where GOV cuts are needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Yes great to see all the comments on here but, how many indigenous Englanders speak more than one language or even care to learn one? Perhaps one should put one's own house in order first ? I am sure Mr. Pickles leads the was by being a polyglot!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    What is perhaps also hard to understand is the BBC's suppression of German Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier's comments about eurosceptics.
    His suggestion that euro sceptics may lead to military misbehaviour in Europe is astonishing.
    Still we at least know that there is zero chance of any UK renegotiation.


Comments 5 of 30



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