Derbyshire County Council defends spending almost £30k on translation services

Derbyshire County Council says it has a duty to ensure all residents can access its services and information.
Derbyshire County Council says it has a duty to ensure all residents can access its services and information.
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Cash-strapped Derbyshire County Council has defended spending nearly £30,000 of taxpayers' cash on translating English into foreign languages over the last two years.

A Freedom of Information request shows the Labour authority spent £10,387 in 2014/15 and £19,412 during 2015/16 on both written and oral translation.

The council says it has a duty to ensure all residents can access its services and information.

Barry Lewis, Derbyshire Conservative Group leader, said: "It is unbelievable the council has been spending thousands on translating languages from all around the globe while cutting services for children and rural communities in Derbyshire.

"Every penny provided by the taxpayer is important – and this is fat which must be trimmed with the money saved being pumped back into our frontline services.

"The Conservatives will always spend wisely on local people's priorities while Labour waste resources, hike up taxes and then complain they haven't got enough money in the coffers."

A council spokesman said: "Derbyshire is a large county with over 750,000 residents.

"We have a duty to make sure all our residents can access our services and information - including those who don't speak English or rely on Braille or British Sign Language.

"By law, we have to make sure disabled residents can access our services and information. This means the money we spend on translation services includes publishing documents in braille on request, British Sign Language services and producing a number of our leaflets and consultation documents in easy-read versions for people with learning disabilities and audio books for people with sight impairments.

"There are also a variety of languages spoken across the county that we take into consideration to ensure our information is available to everyone who needs it so they can understand how to access our services.

"By 2018 the council's budget will be a third smaller than in 2010 and we scrutinise every penny we spend. If we didn't think this money was being well spent and was being used efficiently, to benefit Derbyshire residents, we wouldn't be spending it.

"Requests for documents to be translated are taken on a case-by-case basis and we always consider other alternatives of getting information out and understood if we can do it more efficiently and effectively.

"Examples of how we are spending it include translating information on adult social care services into Punjabi and Polish, which goes on our website and can be accessed by anyone. People must not be excluded from finding out how they can benefit from our services and other services in the community just because English is not their first language.

"We also have to use translators when our social workers need to speak with people who do not speak English as their first language. This could include safeguarding issues and it is important that all parties understand what is being said."