Monday 16 January 2017

Will Brent be paying interpreters enough under the new contract?

Brent Cabinet will tonight award a new interpretating service contract to DA Languages Ltd. Although the report does not mention the rate the company pays to interpreters, and the information is not readily available on their website. However, I have ascertained they pay at the lower end of such provision, at £12 for the first hour and £10 per hour after that, paid at 15 minute intervals. If you take off costs of travel and travel time the rate is much lower.

The Council will also try and move the service to telephone rather than face to face, to save money, although it does not evaluate this in terms of the client's interests:
Whilst demand can be managed in some areas, for example by encouraging customers to be accompanied by family members who are able to interpret, there are many situations where this can’t be done, particularly in CYPS where an independent professional interpreter is needed. In this area, there is demand for interpreters for:
  • Social work safeguarding assessments
  • Family Court proceedings
  • No Recourse to Public Funds assessments
  • Assessments of Unaccompanied Asylum seekers
It is clear that this is skilled work where any errors could have a profound impact on clients' lives. The question is will the rates DA Languages pay be sufficient to attract the most highly skilled interpreters.

The Cabinet report states:
 Based on the volumes from September 2015 to August 2016, the annual cost of the new contract will be £224k, which represents a 6% saving of £14k. The cost of the contract over three years would therefore be £671k. This is less than the Council’s target procurement savings of 10% per contract. 

Spend through the contract can be reduced by encouraging use of the telephone interpreting service, which has no minimum charges, and no late cancellation charges. An interpreting appointment of less than 45 minutes will always cost less if telephone interpreting is used instead. 

Based on historic usage, 50% of spoken face to face appointments of 1 hour or less actually take 45 minutes or less. Moving these to telephone interpreting would save a further £6k. This would allow the Council to broadly meet its 10% procurement savings target on this contract. 

For comparison these are the fees paid by the Government from their website. LINK Note the much higher fee for the first hour and the travel expenses:  

Monday to Friday
First hour: £48 then:
  • 8.01am to 6pm: £16 per hour
  • 6.01pm to 8pm: £20 per hour
First hour: £72 then £26 per hour

Sundays and bank holidays
First hour: £72 then: £32 per hour
Minimum payment is for three hours. (You will only receive one minimum payment and one first hour enhanced payment in any 24 hour period.)

Telephone interpreting rates:
£10 for every 30 minutes 8.01am to 11.59pm
£20 for every 30 minutes midnight to 8am

Travel expenses

Car: more than 50 miles (one way): 23.8 a mile (for each mile in excess of 50 miles).
Actual car parking costs in all cases if most economical route has been taken to the office (to a maximum of £13 if short-stay car parking).

There are exceptions to the maximum car parking fee, for example airport car parking when air transport is a requirement.

We do not reimburse travel costs for interpreters whose travel from home to work and back falls within zones 1 to 6, as the cost of a return journey using an oyster card will be under £13.00 each day. (Interpreters are paid an enhanced first hour each day to cover the costs of any additional expenses incurred during your booking.)

Public transport: actual fare refunded in full if:
  • tickets or receipts are provided; and
  • most economical route taken; and
  • fare (or season ticket if advanced bookings made in same period mean this is more cost effective) over £13.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What about British Sign Language interpreting?

Incidentally, a BSL interpreter told me a few years ago that because of the need for BSL interpreters to be aware of facial gestures as well as hand movements, it can take at least 5 years to train a BSL interpreter.

Alan Wheatley