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09 June 2009

London Councils 'Could Be Compromising The Needs Of Ethnic Minorities'

Local authorities in London are being told that they need to consider the translation and interpreting needs of their non-English speaking residents if they want to communicate better with everyone in their borough.

And now a campaign is being mounted to get London Councils to take their responsibilities of communicating with ethnic minorities seriously.

All councils are judged on how well they deliver their strategic plans to the community, and these results determine the councils' star ratings.

  Business Development Manager Colin Dudley
Colin Dudley Local Authority Business Development Manager, Prestige Network

Colin Dudley, Local Authority Business Development Manager at language services provider Prestige Network, said: "The announcement by the former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears to bring in a £50 visa surcharge for people from outside the EU moving to the UK to work or study is intended to help fund more translators and police support - this is good news for London Councils.

"There is a growth in demand from local authorities throughout the UK, but we are concerned that London Councils seem to be missing out. At the moment these councils could be compromising the ability of ethnic minorities to gain access to services in the same way as other residents in their boroughs.

"Ethnic minorities would be in danger of losing out if this money announced by Hazel Blears does not filter through for translations and interpreting. It is important that the Department of Communities and Local Government maintains the momentum of communicating with ethnic minorities - with Hazel now gone, it's important for continuity to be maintained."

Effective communication is one of the key criteria for councils' star ratings.

Mr Dudley said: "Being able to communicate with staff is crucial for everyone using council services: it enables people to say what they want, to understand what is going on around them and feel connected to others. Translation and interpreting services give people access to support - this enables communication which underpins the human right to be treated with dignity and respect and to take personal decisions.

"Many London councillors are up for re-election next year - 2010 - and will have the star ratings of their authorities in the back of their minds already. It's important that these councillors are seen by the electorate to do well in helping their council officers deliver their services to everyone within their borough and this means considering the needs of non-English speakers.

"We believe that providing language services are one of the best ways for London Councils to meet the communications criteria which affect their council’s star ratings."

Prestige Network caters for language and communications needs in the private and public sector (including the NHS, local government departments, charities, the police and other public organisations). It is continuing to build on its successful delivery to over 1,000 clients and recently announced a 65 per cent growth in 2008/2009. It is run by brother and sister Shawn Khorassani and Shohreh Fleming and her husband Anthony.

Mr Dudley said: "The increased demand for language services by public sector organisations and commercial companies alike is symptomatic of the need to meet the country’s continually expanding and diversifying language base."

Prestige Network can be contacted on 01635 866888


Note to editors:

  • Councils' star ratings are currently assigned by either the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate or the Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA).
  • Company overview: 25 staff, +5,000 linguists, +1,000 clients, four offices nationally - Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Thatcham (Head Office).
  • Formed in 1991, Prestige Network is a special language services provider based in Thatcham, Berkshire.
  • Prestige Network provides a full UK wide service in all languages.
  • It can cater for all language and communications needs in the public sector, including central and local government departments, the NHS, charities, the police and other public organisations.
  • Prestige Network was recently recognised in the Thames Valley Small Business Award 2008

For more information, contact Susan Tolman (PR Consultant) at Prestige Network on 01635 866888.