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UK Local Councils Spend £20m per year on Translations

Posted on: 18/01/2010

Councils spent nearly £20 million of taxpayers’ money last year on translating documents into foreign languages including Mongolian, Tagalog and Pahari, according to new figures.

Documents were translated into more than 75 languages by councils.

The heaviest spender was the City of Edinburgh council, which last year paid out £110,000 for translations into languages including Mongolian.

Two of the highest spenders in England were Northamptonshire County Council which spent £73,000 on translation fees in 2008/09 and Leeds City Council paid £141,000 over the last two years.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said councils should encourage migrants to learn English instead of spending public money on translations.

He said: “Even the Government have now accepted that the practice of translating endless documents into obscure languages is a waste of money, so these councils have no excuse to still be doing this. Not only is this wasteful, it is counterproductive in terms of social cohesion.”

Among the more unusual items translated were a “pigeon feeding document” translated into Urdu for Manchester City Council, and “Weight Busters”, which was translated into Panjabi, Gujerati and Urdu by Warwickshire County Council at a cost of £207.

Hertfordshire County Council also spent more than £10,000 translating at least 100 school reports into languages including Sylheti Bengali, Tagalog and Tamil, while Liverpool City Council paid £98.92 to translate a payslip into Flemish.

Documents were also rewritten in Kpelle, a Liberian dialect, and Pahari, a language spoken in northern India and Nepal.

The figures came to light after 84 per cent of British councils responded to a freedom of information request by Lingo24, a translation agency, which said the figures revealed a “phenomenal and unnecessary wastage” of taxpayers’ money.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the amount spent by councils on translation had been reduced from £25m in 2006.

A spokesman for the LGA said: “Translation has its place to ensure people can access vital services, find jobs and get their children into school. However, translation should not be a substitute for learning English and all public bodies need to adopt a common-sense approach.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6995845/Local-councils-spend-nearly-20m-in-a-year-translating-documents.html

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