NUBSLI public statement on CCS framework agreement

imageReblogged from NUBSLI’s website. This statement was published on 28th April 2016 shortly after the Crown Commercial Service send out the contract notice.

Since September 2014, NUBSLI has been in negotiation with the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) in an attempt to improve the initial drafts of a national framework agreement for Language Services (interpreting and translation). We highlighted many concerns, most notably a lack of standards and safeguards for users of BSL/English interpreting services and the waste of public funds that would occur were this framework to go ahead.

We acknowledge that some improvements have been made. However, we maintain that a large national framework, whereby public authorities can purchase contracts, is not appropriate for our profession. It has the potential to cause many interpreters to leave their careers, as evidenced by our profession exit interview report and our 2015 survey of working conditions (pdf)

In February 2015, NUBSLI launched the #ScrapTheFramework campaign, due to ongoing concerns about this large-scale privatisation of our profession and the damage it would cause to interpreters and the Deaf community we serve.

The framework commenced on 22nd April for up to four years and the suppliers were announced this week on the Government’s website. BSL/English interpreting and other services for Deaf people comes under Lot 4, and is split into regions a-e, which cover Greater London including Overseas, Southern England, Midlands and East of England, North of England and, lastly, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Most suppliers will cover all regions. They include:

  • Clarion
  • London Borough of Newham (Language Shop)
  • Sign Solutions
  • Language Empire
  • thebigword
  • Prestige Network
  • DA Languages

From our privileged position as the service providers in this field, and with collective experience and expertise, our remaining concerns are:

  • A reduced amount of choice and control for Deaf people.
  • Poorer administration – where large agencies subcontract to smaller agencies, mistakes and wastage are more likely in the booking of professionals.
  • Poorer access – where Deaf people are provided with inappropriately qualified or experienced people, this has an impact on service delivery.
  • Poorer accountability – It is more difficult for Deaf people to complain about poor services.
  • Downward pressure on interpreters’ fees and terms and conditions to unsustainable levels.
  • Inefficient use of public funds on administration rather than access.
  • Large scale privatisation further puts at risk the ability for smaller agencies, with good local knowledge and relationships, to continue.
  • Despite a regional structure, none of the suppliers are local agencies.

NUBSLI wish to make it clear that BSL/English interpreters are not prepared to jeopardise the sustainability of their profession by accepting the diminished fees, and terms and conditions set out in the framework. These are not fitting for a workforce of extensively trained and qualified freelancers, and clearly go against market rates falling short of the industry standard. This was made clear to the CCS who have regrettably overlooked the counsel of the profession.

We have already seen the boycott of one NHS contract by interpreters in the South West. Interpreters are increasingly prepared to take a similar position with other contracts which do not meet our basic rates of pay and terms.

We will be continuing to campaign against the framework and will work with individual commissioners wherever possible.

If you are a BSL/English interpreter and are not yet a member of NUBSLI, we urge you to join. We are stronger together.

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:

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

 

Revealed: Capita Charges for Interpreting Services

NUBSLI members this morning received leaked information about Capita’s charges under the Ministry of Justice contract. It reveals that Sign Language Interpreters, as usual, are talked about as being expensive yet do not receive anywhere near the money that is being charged for their services. A quick breakdown below…

capitas charges

A half day job with 1 hour travel each way
Capita charge:             £172.80 minimum charge + £80.00 Travel time
£252.80 TOTAL

Interpreter’s fee:           Less than half this amount (using Clarion and Sign Solutions rates outside of London).

Interpreters have been taking a pay cut under this contract for years and not getting travel time/expenses resulting in chaos. I am not the only interpreter I know that refuses to work under this contract due the dodgy practices of the contractors and its sub-contractors.

And I will not work for less than NUBSLI fees guidance. With information like this leak, it is about time ALL interpreters learnt how to negotiate the lies told to us by disreputable agencies and toughened up a bit. If you are not sure how to do this and you need support, there is strength in numbers, NUBSLI is the place to go.

Court and police work should demand the best interpreters in the country and pay accordingly. What a sad, sorry state of affairs that this contract is. We all knew that five years ago when it started, let’s not allow this situation to continue. It isn’t just sign language interpreters who have had the wool pulled over their eyes, the situation for spoken language interpreters has been far worse. It is time to stop it.

MoJ interpreting contract: quarter of all BSL bookings cancelled

The government would have us believe the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) framework was a good thing, because it saved them £38 million pounds. This does not accurately reflect what has happened on the ground. A quick trawl of blogs and social media will reveal the MoJ framework (#MoJFWA) has failed. Money saved on the contract has caused untold, incalculable waste in court delays, mistrials and maladministration.
And what of Sign Language interpreters? There are some that would have it that there is no evidence of a fall in standards despite there being plenty of anecdotal evidence that there is. One problem is confidentiality. No one, for example Deaf professionals and interpreters, wants to report sub-standard interpreting in courts when a) they may know the interpreters and b) this means they have the break the confidentiality of the Deaf clients in the court room.

Other interpreters are bound by the (terrible) NRCPD Code of Conduct to report bad practice, yet it happens rarely because 1) we’d hate it if happened to us 2) how do you prove it? 3) complaints rarely seem to progress. A lot of pain for no eventual outcome.

But I’ve blogged about all this before. Let’s talk MoJ stats. Monitoring information from 2014 has been published and a sorry story it does tell.

There were 161,600 completed requests for all languages. 2.2% were for special services listed as: BSL/English interpreters, lip speakers, Deafblind interpreters, speech to text reporters and SSE interpreting (which at least in the States they have the decency to call transliteration rather than use the term SSE like it was anything real). So a total of 3,555 bookings.

Special services did not get over 95% success rate for fulfilment. This document does not reveal what the success rate actually was. 

The stats look fairly innocuous until you look at the cancellations rate for BSL bookings in 2014. Of these 24.5% were cancelled by customer action – customer did not attend or cancelled by customer), an increase of 6.5% in comparison to 2013. 

25%. A quarter. The £38 million spend on interpreting would be far less if everyone got their house in order. But I can posit a guess as to one reason for the high cancellation rate. Subcontracting.

Court cancels a booking. A court clerk, booking officer, police personnel or whoever is administrating bookings needs to get a message back to the supplier i.e. the agency who holds the contract and an effective monopoly, Capita. Capita then needs to contact the subcontractor who then informs the interpreter. So many layers of administration renders an already over-stretched court service ineffective and inefficient via a contract supposedly designed to increase efficiencies. 

The £38 million savings was only down to cutting the pay of spoken language interpreters from £75 under the National Agreement to £21, and that is an increase from the original offering. The rest of the profits are now shared around in framework management fees and profits for the Contractor.

To go back to cancellations fees. Sign Language interpreters cancellation fees are under threat from, historically, Applied Language Solutions winning the tender. They won partly because they promised to deliver a service without offering them. Capita, who took over, continues to use this practice with the subcontractors paying them in some cases. Interpreters have to fight for them.

With 25% of bookings cancelled on arrival, cancellation fees occur in a QUARTER of all bookings. Attempting to not pay these fees was a fallacy and one that would never work. This is a figure that should be kept in mind by interpreters when negotiating their terms and conditions.

What we do know is Capita try and encourage courts to cancel their bookings. Another reason the figure may be so high. They get paid whereas if a booking is unfulfilled they get nothing. I say let us all start refusing to work with them. Interpreters forget that agencies need us to fill contracts. Capita and its subcontractors. There’s only so many in-house interpreters you can try and source to make up the shortfall in freelancers who are refusing to work under the threat that if they take court work which is cancelled there is 25% risk of losing fees altogether. Why should interpreters take the shortfall for everyone else’s mistakes, inefficiencies in the system and contractors greed? Deaf interpreters report their terms and conditions are being pushed even more than other interpreters when their skills should be valued. 

For specialist services, 6.2% of requests were not filled due to the supplier. 0.5% of all bookings were filled off contract by either direct bookings or other agencies. Let’s see these numbers go up and this contract undermined.

When we see stats like this, it is time we all started showing each other some solidarity, standing up for all of us as a collective and refusing to take this any more. Agencies and the government can not do this without us. 

What we do not know yet is how widespread the effect this contract is having on the deaf people who have a right to access the justice system. Until an effective system is in place what is certain is it is not just interpreters that can not survive under this contract, the access rights of Deaf people are being eroded.

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.

#ScrapTheFramework latest: 1000 sign the letter, framework is not fit for purpose

As reported on the Limping Chicken blog earlier in the week, over 1000 signatories signed the open letter to Francis Maude MP, asking him to #ScrapTheFramework.

The letter included Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union, leading campaign organisations and several MPs.

You can read the letter on NUBSLI’s campaign page.

This framework will change the way interpreting services are delivered to Deaf people in the UK, as well as covering all spoken language interpreting and other communication support such as lip speakers, deafblind interpreters, note takers and speech to text reporters. Privatisation of a whole sector in one go.

There is still work to be done in making representations to the Crown Commercial Service as there is a proposed two-hour minimum for interpreters and no travel expenses.

Aside from terms and conditions and fees the actual framework needs much more work. There are no stipulations about where Trainee Sign Language Interpreters (TSLIs) are able to work leaving agencies able to put Trainees into child protection and mental health. The NRCPD’s view. As long as registration is stipulated that is fine. It is not. Registered is RSLI: Registered Sign Language Interpreter. TSLI is on the register but not registered. Confused? So is everyone else. Trainees have yet to reach the National Occupational Standards and as such need to be protected and Deaf people safeguarded appropriately. NRCPD states on their website that Trainees should not work in legal settings and mental health. NRCPD, do what you say and tell the CCS no Trainees in mental health. Child protection should be explicitly stated too. As an unwritten rule the interpreting community has recognised this area as a no go for Trainees for years due to its legal as well as it’s moral nature.

On the spoken language interpreting side, there are low level qualifications stated for all areas, leaving the quality of provision dangerously low. Given that most agencies are motivated by profit the lowest possible common denominator gets the job not who is the most suitable. Private contracts are hardly safe when monitoring is left in the hands of private agencies who can make up their own figures (cf Ministry of Justice framework and ALS now Capita TI).

The way Deaf people are talked about is patronising and erroneous. “Non-spoken”, interpreters enable Deaf people “to access hearing” and if you are Deafblind you have access to video relay services. Hardly written from the basis of good knowledge and practice, or even common sense. No. This framework is a disaster waiting to happen.