If it’s up to the new county councillor Chris Pain, translation services for foreign languages will be a thing of the past in Lincolnshire as he believes cutting the services of translators is a great way to cut back costs.
According to an article on the website of the Skegness Standard, the new UKIP councillor for Burgh and Wainfleet Chris wants to cut costs for translation services in his county. Pain believes immigrants should either pay for the translation services themselves or should learn English. Now, he says, it is a burden for the UK taxpayer. “There are certain services you can’t cut but we don’t need to be spending thousands on translation services,” Pain stated. “We’ve got to be very studious across the whole range of council services and see if we are getting value for taxpayers’ money.”
Yesterday, the same councillor was alleged to have called illegal immigrants “sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-f******, ragheads.”
As the council has to cut back £125 million, Pain thinks translation is one field in which steps could be made towards this goal. Juicy detail: Pain had no knowledge of the amount of money spent on translation services before making his statement… of course, this was calculated shortly after.
Research has shown that in the last financial year, Lincolnshire has spent £49,500 on translation services. This is less than the year before, when £55,000 were spent on the services. This means only 0.0045% of the billion pound budget the council has and 0.036% of the needed savings go to translation services this year.
David O’Connor, the council’s executive director for performance and governance, stated that translation is not carried out automatically, but only when people are unable to access a certain service because of the language barrier. This includes children’s services, where an interpreter might be asked to attend social worker visits, for example. O’Connor: “If we didn’t provide these services, we wouldn’t be performing our safeguarding duties to protect those residents who cannot protect themselves.” In addition, he said, “It’s also important to ensure that we are understood by those who speak little or no English on legal matters like school appeal hearings and inclusion and attendance matters in education.”
O’Connor thus believes the translation service should not be dropped from the Council’s budget, but he does think costs can be cut if employees of the council can be used for interpreting assignments that are on short notice.
Policy director at the Migrant’s Rights Network is also against scrapping the service. She believes the service is needed to make sure all members of a community can get the help and support they deserve: “Speaking generally we would support efforts to encourage and help migrant to learn the English language but if translation services for new arrivals are removed, it could have long-term social and economic impacts on the region and we would urge authorities to maintain that.” She also pointed out the ‘international outcry’ that occurred when the Dutch Government threatened to stop the funding for translation services in 2011 to stress that the decision to cut translation services could have severe consequences.
Where do you stand? Should UK tax payers be expected to pay for translation services to assist foreigners living and working here? Or is this a right we should value and protect? Let us know via Twitter @_kwintessential, Facebook or Linked In.