Agencies behaving oddly? Contract negotiations are under way

emails on laptopInterpreters… How do you know a large new government contract is in the process of being tendered and awarded?

Answer: Those weird emails from agencies offering new services, asking you to fill out a survey or asking you to confirm you want to stay on their books i.e. bump up the numbers of their suppliers (you) even though it’s possible you never registered with them in the first place.

What examples have we seen recently?

Sign Solutions put out a survey of freelancers about their fees and terms and conditions. They’ll have been tendering for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) second generation contract and the National Framework by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS). Let’s hope they do not get either as a contender for worst ‘BSL specialist’ agency, who have tendered for contracts below which interpreters are willing to work. This has resulted in boycotts. Which have worked.

Pearl Linguistics and The Big Word have created some wonderful 10 minute online CPD courses on subjects such as safe guarding. Clearly a tick box exercise designed to fulfil some contract specification. If only government departments would listen to organisations like NUBSLI, NUPIT and PI4J when they’ve told them that CPD is individual to the interpreter and fees must be commensurate to enable the interpreter to source good quality CPD according to their individual needs. Makes a mockery of safe guarding procedures, doesn’t it?

Wales Council for the Deaf, (I can’t comment on their services as I do not know), suddenly emailed those in the South East and South West last year to see if interpreters would register with them. Why? Despite protests from NUBSLI, the Crown Commercial Service refused to change their regional contract structure into one that was more reflective of geographical areas and market conditions and lumped in Wales with the whole of the South of England. As a result Welsh providers were chasing interpreters in Kent.

Last year, Capita were fishing around via their various subsidiaries to see if interpreters would work for one hour for Access to Work users. Alledgely Action on Hearing Loss have been quoting for blocks of one hour. They already hold DWP contracts despite advising the DWP via UKCoD and other meetings. Separation of supply and advice? Not with these organisations. These queries will be coming from the DWP who is considering its options. National Framework or bust for Access to Work then.

All those requests for ID even though you are registered and have already provided these? The contract will state a requirement for a BPPS (Baseline Personnel Security Standard) check. Ever more bureaucratic hoops for interpreters to jump through.

So if you receive any strange requests, you can bet there’s an agency chasing some public sector business and seeing how much it can get away with before it sticks in a low tender and screws its suppliers: us.

Be careful how you reply, get behind your union, (NUBSLI or NUPIT), and get ready to stand strong.

The announcement of suppliers for the National Framework will be out later this month for an April start and is open to most public authorities in the UK. The MoJ contract notice is also due in March for start in October 2016 when the cuurent contract expires.

Further reading:

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National Framework Agreement for Interpreting: what services does it cover?

imageThe contract notice for the Framework is out and it makes for a shocking read when you look at the services it covers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is easier to ask what service or government departments it doesn’t cover. The answer: none or certainly not many.

The contract notice lists organisations from pages 22 – 29. I paste below to illustrate this is a coordinated attack on the whole interpreting profession, spoken and sign languages in a bid to control and reduce prices to unsustainable levels.

Of course we won’t know the full extent of the damage until it becomes clear who has won places on the framework, what contracts they hold and what prices they fell to in order to win contracts. A possible 3 agencies per region of which there are 5. 15 possible suppliers and a bidding war by agencies to get their places followed by further competitions for contracts (known as call-offs from the framework). The future does not look bright. Thank goodness for NUBSLI.

Authorites eligible to buy contracts from the framework:

Central Government Departments, Local Government and Public Corporations that can be accessed at the Public Sector Classification Guide: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/na-classification/national-accounts-sector-classification/index.html Local Authorities http://openlylocal.com/councils/all http://www.ubico.co.uk NDPBs https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations National Parks Authorities http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/ Educational Establishments in England and Wales, maintained by the Department for Children, Schools and Families including Schools, Universities and Colleges but not Independent Schools http://www.education.gov.uk/edubase/home.xhtml Police Forces in the United Kingdom http://www.police.uk/?view=force_sites http://apccs.police.uk/about-the-apcc/ Fire and Rescue Services in the United Kingdom http://www.fireservice.co.uk/information/ukfrs http://www.nifrs.org/areas-districts/ http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-area.aspx NHS Bodies England http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/AcuteTrustListing.aspx http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/MentalHealthTrustListing.aspx http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/CareTrustListing.aspx http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/AmbulanceTrustListing.aspx http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/SpecialHealthAuthorityListing.aspx http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/OtherListing.aspx Hospices in the UK http://www.helpthehospices.org.uk/about-hospice-care/find-a-hospice/uk-hospice-and-palliative-care- services/ Registered Social Landlords (Housing Associations) Third Sector and Charities in the United Kingdom http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/find-charities/ http://www.oscr.org.uk/search-charity-register/ https://www.charitycommissionni.org.uk/ShowCharity/RegisterOfCharities/RegisterHomePage.aspx Citizens Advice in the United Kingdom http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.htm http://www.cas.org.uk http://www.citizensadvice.co.uk/ Scottish Public Bodies The Framework Agreement will be available for use by any Scottish Public Sector Body: the Authority; Scottish Non-Departmental Public Bodies; offices in the Scottish Administration which are not ministerial offices; cross-border public authorities within the meaning of section 88(5) of the Scotland Act 1998; the Scotland Office; the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body; councils constituted under section 2 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 (except where they are acting in their capacity as educational authority); Scottish joint fire boards or joint fire and rescue boards; Scottish joint police boards or anysuccessor National Police or Fire Authority; Scottish National Park authorities, bodies registered as social landlords under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, Scottish health boards or special health boards, Student Loans Company Limited, Northern Lighthouse Board, further or higher education institutions being fundable bodies within the meaning of section 6 of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005 any public body established by or under the Scotland Act 1998 or any Act of the Scottish Parliament, any association of or formed by one or more of the foregoing, bodies financed wholly or mainly by one or more of the foregoing, bodies subject to management supervision by one or more of the foregoing and bodies more than half of the board of directors or members of which, or, in the case of a group of individuals, more than half of those individuals, being appointed by one or more of the foregoing. Scottish Government http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Home Scottish Parliament http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/abouttheparliament/27110.aspx Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Scottish Information Commissioner Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland Scottish Commission for Human Rights Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland Standards Commission for Scotland Scottish Local Authorities http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Government/councils http://www.scotland-excel.org.uk/home/AboutUs/OurMembers/AssociateMembers.aspx Scottish Agencies, NDPBs http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/public-bodies/about/Bodies Scottish NHS Bodies http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Health/NHS-Workforce/NHS-Boards Scottish Further and Higher Education Bodies http://www.universities-scotland.ac.uk/index.php?page=members http://www.sfc.ac.uk/aboutus/council_funded_institutions/WhoWeFundColleges.aspx Scottish Police http://www.scotland.police.uk/your-community/ Scottish Housing Associations http://www.sfha.co.uk/component/option,com_membersdir/Itemid,149/view,membersdir/ The Scotland Office http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/scotlandoffice/33.30.html Registered Social Landlords (Housing Associations) – Scotland http://www.esystems.scottishhousingregulator.gov.uk/register/reg_pub_dsp.search Scottish Schools Primary Schools http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/scottishschoolsonline/index.asp? schoolsearchstring=&addresssearchstring=&authority=&strTypes=isprimaryschool&bSubmit=1&Submit=Search Secondary Schools http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/scottishschoolsonline/index.asp? schoolsearchstring=&addresssearchstring=&authority=&strTypes=issecondaryschool&bSubmit=1&Submit=Sear Special Schools http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/scottishschoolsonline/index.aspschoolsearchstring=&addresssearchstring=&authority=&strTypes=isspecial&bSubmit=1&Submit=Search Scottish Public Bodies National Records of Scotland Historic Scotland Disclosure Scotland Registers of Scotland Scottish Qualification Authority Scottish Courts Service Scottish Prison Service Transport Scotland The Scottish Government Core Directorates Highlands and Islands Enterprise Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service Scottish Police Authority National Museums of Scotland Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration Scottish Enterprise Scottish Environment Protection Agency Scottish Legal Aid Board Scottish Natural Heritage Skills Development Scotland Visit Scotland Aberdeen City Council Aberdeenshire Council Angus Council Argyll and Bute Council City of Edinburgh Council Clackmannanshire Council Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Dumfries and Galloway Council Dundee City Council East Ayrshire Council East Dunbartonshire Council East Lothian Council East Renfrewshire Council Falkirk Council Fife Council Glasgow City Council Highland Council Inverclyde Council Midlothian Council Moray Council, The North Ayrshire Council North Lanarkshire Council Orkney Islands Council Perth and Kinross Council Renfrewshire Council Scottish Borders Council Shetland Islands Council South Ayrshire Council South Lanarkshire Council Stirling Council West Dunbartonshire Council West Lothian Council Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service Fife Fire and Rescue Service Grampian Fire and Rescue Service Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service Tayside Fire and Rescue Service Golden Jubilee Hospital (National Waiting Times Centre Board) NHS 24 NHS Ayrshire and Arran NHS Borders NHS Dumfries and Galloway NHS Education for Scotland NHS Fife NHS Forth Valley NHS Grampian NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Health Scotland NHS Highland NHS Lanarkshire NHS Lothian NHS Orkney Healthcare Improvement Scotland NHS Shetland NHS Tayside NHS Western Isles Scottish Ambulance Service The Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service The State Hospital for Scotland Aberdeen College Adam Smith College Angus College Anniesland College Ayr College Banff and Buchan College Barony College Borders College Cardonald College Carnegie College Central College of Commerce Clydebank College Coatbridge College Cumbernauld College Dumfries and Galloway College Dundee College Edinburghs Telford College Elmwood College Forth Valley College Glasgow College of Nautical Studies Glasgow Metropolitan College Inverness College James Watt College Jewel and Esk College John Wheatley College Kilmarnock College Langside College Lews Castle College Moray College Motherwell College Newbattle Abbey College North Glasgow College North Highland College Oatridge College Orkney College Perth College Reid Kerr College Sabhal Mor Ostaig Shetland College South Lanarkshire College Stevenson College Stow College Queen Margaret University Robert Gordon University Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Scottish Agricultural College UHI Millennium Institute University of Aberdeen University of Abertay Dundee University of Dundee University of Edinburgh University of Glasgow University of St Andrews University of Stirling University of Strathclyde University of the West of Scotland Cairngorms National Park Authority Office of Scottish Charity Regulator Forestry Commission Scotland Audit Scotland Welsh Public Bodies National Assembly for Wales, Welsh Assembly Government and Welsh Local Authorities, and all bodies covered by: http://www.assemblywales.org/abthome/abt-links.htm http://new.wales.gov.uk/about/civilservice/directorates/?lang=en NHS Wales http://www.wales.nhs.uk/ourservices/directory Housing Associations – Registered Social Landlords Wales NI Public Bodies Northern Ireland Government Departments http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/gov.htm Northern Ireland Public Sector Bodies and Local Authorities http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/az2.htm Schools in Northern Ireland http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/index/search.lsim?sr=0&nh=10&cs=iso-8859-1&sc=nidirect- cms&sm=0&mt=1&ha=nidirect-cms&cat=Banner&qt=SCHOOLS Universities in Northern Ireland http://www.deni.gov.uk/links.htm#colleges Health and Social care in Northern Ireland http://www.hscni.net/index.php?link=hospitals http://www.hscni.net/index.php?link=boards http://www.hscni.net/index.php?link=agencies http://www.hscni.net/index.php?link=councils Northern Ireland Housing Associations http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/index/contacts/contacts-az.htm/housing-associations-contact Police Service of Northern Ireland http://www.psni.police.uk/index.htm

ENDS

 

NUBSLI Statement on the Release of the National Framework Contract Notice

Reposted from The Nub: http://nubsli.com/the-nub.php

NUBSLI Statement on the Release of the National Framework Contract Notice for Language Services from the Crown Commercial Service

The tender documents for the national framework agreement for interpreting and translation went out today. NUBSLI have been campaigning against this with our #ScrapTheFramework campaign since February 2015 and have successfully delayed the tendering process for over a year.

Today’s development is deeply disappointing and shows that the government are not interested in providing a robust service to ensure high quality access, but are merely aiming to cut cost. This will be to the detriment of the access rights of the Deaf community.

The Cabinet office were unable to provide any answers to the issues we have been raising since September 2014 regarding sustainability of the workforce, breached legislative requirements, or unmet need. The framework cannot meet the needs of the Deaf community and will undoubtedly lead to a deterioration of standards and reduced numbers of qualified BSL/English Interpreters/Translators in the UK.

NUBSLI will continue to fight for the right to fair terms & conditions and fees for its interpreters, and for high quality access for the Deaf community. Even after the launch of the National Framework, all hope is not lost. Coming together as a profession, standing firm with one powerful collective voice will make us impossible to ignore. If you are an interpreter or translator then we urge you to join us. For members of the Deaf community, it is your right to refuse services under this contract.

This government are placing BSL/English Interpreting services at significant risk in the UK.

RM1092 The National Framework: designed to wreck the Deaf and Interpreting community

After five years of contracting omnishambles and nearly one year of NUBSLI‘s campaigning against the biggest framework for interpreting services we’ve ever seen in the profession, we are still waiting for the biggest mess ever to occur.

This blog has recorded and commented on, over those last five years, the damage that large contracts taken by large agencies have done to the Deaf and interpreting communities.

The trend of ever larger contracts continues despite everything over the last five years pointing to this not benefiting the Deaf community. They are no longer Customers, it is now the government department or Contracting Authority i.e. NHS trust, MoJ, DWP and AtW. The interpreter is no longer the Supplier, it is now the Agency. Layers of administration come between Deaf people and interpreters with choice and control removed and interpreters are left fighting for a sustainable career which if they do not have leaves the Deaf community without an adequate supply of quality interpreters who can afford to work full time and be members of the community.

The national framework is being designed by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to bring three existing frameworks together. The most important ones for BSL are RM738 face to face interpreting and the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) national framework. The companies that won places on the RM738 framework were: The Big Word, Prestige Network and Language Line. For the MoJ a monopoly was handed to ALS then taken over by Capita. Not a specialist BSL agency in sight. No, all they were left with were sub-contracts to these big guns who knew nothing about Deaf people. Interpreters were left fighting for their rates as the squeeze was on for everyone to get their cut.

Although standards were written into the MoJ the competitive mess sub-contracting brought about meant many experienced court interpreters left it to those who’d accept less. The excellent interpreters booked directly and well-respected by individual courts were pushed out unless they were willing to jump through administrative hoops and be booked by subcontracted agencies, one of whom knew little about legal work, the other dropping its own standards for the sake of saving its business.

Meanwhile with RM738, standards were not exactly high on the list of priorities. With nothing written into the actual framework and scant monitoring agencies were free to use whomever they chose and unqualified signers with GCSE level qualifications they used. And they cared little. One of three, the Big Word, proclaimed publicly in its evidence to the Justice Committee in 2012 that its, “extensive partnering with local suppliers, including SMEs and the voluntary and third sector (sic) ensures that contracts can be filled at a local level”. The reality is they’ve been one of the biggest blights on the sign language interpreting profession over these five years with Capita being another.

Five years on we have a national framework proposed which is based on the same principles as the others. The strategy seems to be increase administration and sub-contracting (which supposedly fills the government’s SME agenda), ignores the work of the registers (by dictating that agencies produce ID cards and provide CPD to interpreters) and fails to measure or understand the basic needs that interpreting services should be designed to fulfil.

On their procurement pipeline, the CCS states, “We do not set policy on how public sector organisations provide access to interpreting services nor do we determine the appropriate qualification levels for interpreters in particular circumstances. The offering is broad and it is for individual customers to establish their requirements in line with their policies when creating a contract under the framework agreement.” This is just one example of a clear lack of respect in setting standards or even understanding them in the first place.

With basic groundwork not done by government departments the national framework, RM1092, is a house of cards built on quicksand. Those who think that standards have been written in and therefore everything with this framework is now perfectly fine would do well to review the NUBSLI visual above and consider each of the points made. Standards written into a document is one thing, there are many other implications of what such a large, badly planned framework can have. Especially when it is designed to cover every type of interpreting, including Access to Work (AtW). Any choice and control in interpreting provision Deaf people had left is about to be removed and if sustainable fees are not paid to interpreters the knock on effect will likely to leave the profession, and the Deaf community, devastated for years to come.