£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
    0

    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
    +1

    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
    0

    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
    0

    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
    0

    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.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 25.

    Most people find it hard to understand doctors, teachers etc, it is said that doctors etc have to have English that is understandable. Migrants do put lives as well as their own in danger through poor language skills. Migrants must be able to speak understandable English before being allowed into the country.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 24.

    Full marks to Pickles on this one. It sends out the wrong message if everything is translated. Surely they can learn English or at least use someone from their own community to translate for them.

    It shouldn't be a burden on taxpayers.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 23.

    We should not spend a penny on them. Why should hard pressed school budgets suffer beacuse lazy parents dont teach their kids English. Walk arond any boot fair and hear them jabbering away in their own tounge. Its another hidden cost of the EU. If you cant speak enough English to access welfare one must ask why you are here and feel entitled to it!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 22.

    Why does UK mollycoddle non English speakers? My wife & I chose to live in France 10 years ago, she speaks French I don't! I tried going to language classes but because of my deafness this wasn't successful! But, I do the best I can & fortunately the French are very patient & forgiving but my point is, if you decide to live abroad you should make the effort not expect your hosts to finance you!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 21.

    It may be true that that this country is a soft touch compared to much of Europe.
    Mainly though, Britain is still a very good place to live. Despite the politicians, this overpopulated, poorly maintained, over regulated and grossly overtaxed state is still, for most of us, a safe and pleasant place to live.
    So if you want to live here, make an effort.
    It's your responsibility, not ours.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 20.

    Wales Translation - council planning meeting - How it works businesses all conducted in welsh - translation is supplied in English via studio headphones, meeting finishes all revert to enlist for the the technical details. someone else pay for it !

    Process over product !

    Some Welsh councils have ability to pro discriminate for welsh speakers- Gravy train !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 19.

    If you live in England you should be able to speak the native language: English. I wonder how much is spent in France, any arabic country or even Australia on translation services? Even the Welsh can't afford it - silly really.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 18.

    Who in the world will want to learn a language if everywhere where it matters 'translators' are provided. People who come to this country to live or work should be made to go to evening classes to learn English.
    And ronnieboy1# ..the reason they all want to come here is well known...it boils down to just one word; which they can all speak fluently...'benefits'.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 17.

    TAKE THE COST OUT OF THE FOREIGN AID BUDGET

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 16.

    This is a drop in the ocean compared to translating and producing documents in welsh.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 15.

    Let all immigrants pay for their own translation services. Why should it fall on the council tax payer to pay.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 14.

    9.AndyA
    '...brought to this island by immigrants.'
    But where do you begin?
    Presumably we all originated in Africa, migrating through the Middle East, picking up pale skin and some blue eyes in the process.
    We are now a mature society totally dependent on services and infrastructure that were struggling to cope before the mad Brown/Blair immigration plan; a level never before experienced, ever.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 13.

    why do people want to come to a country that is undemocratic...bankrupt...treats its own citizens with contempt.expensive housing and expensive everything poor education and poor wages.ruined nhs ....why come here?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 12.

    Our Ministers and the happy-clappy tree-hugging brigade of this country constantly tell us that we are admired around the world because of our accepting multicultural views to economic migrants and asylum seekers.
    This may be true amongst those who are here or want to come, but I can assure you that there are many more people who don't want to come that openly laugh at our soft-touch approach!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 11.

    Our Government's(and previous),misguided belief that the UK should 'mother' every migrant to these shores, coupled with being bound by the Court's rediculous interpretation of some ECHR laws, has ensured that the UK tax payer has to shell out millions, if not billions in totally preventable Legal, Welfare and Social bills.
    If you can't speak the language - learnt it or Leave!

 

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