Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Money down the drain?

Last week Patricia Hewitt announced that the government was to launch a £50m Smoke-free England campaign. This was seen by many a waste of money, telling the public about an issue that will be covered by the media.

Today the BBC reported that £100m of the tax payers money is spent on translation services in the UK.

Local authorities spend £25m, NHS trusts £55m and the courts £31m on interpreting languages. .The BBC discovered that Peterborough Council translates details of its refuse collection service into 15 languages.

Islington's NHS primary care trust is providing a Turkish woman who has been a UK resident for five years with one-to-one sessions to help her stop smoking translated into her own language.

Phil Woolas, Communities Minister, said: "We believe that the system may need to be rebalanced to give a greater focus on teaching English and this includes looking at the advice given from government, public bodies and local authorities."

The former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, said: "Translation is not a disincentive. It allows them to get access to services while they learn English. Translation is a way of helping people in transition into integrating into our society."

Q. Do you believe the public should have greater control of government spending?

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