22 October 2013
Ministry of Justice Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13
"Graham Stringer: What about areas like the interpretation service, where you changed the interpretation service and it might lead to costs elsewhere in the service in extended or ineffective trials, or cuts in legal aid, which will lead to more self-representation? Have you taken that into account?
Dame Ursula Brennan: The interpreters are, in a way, a good example. We absolutely have saved money through the interpreters’ contract, but it was not the intention to worsen the service. We did have a problem, which we have acknowledged and put our hands up about, when we introduced that contract, but it is, in a way, a very good example. The service we were giving before was really poor and was bad value for money. We had a not well-functioning service. We entered into a contract to reduce the cost of the service and to ensure that we could have assurance about the quality standards, which we did not have before, about interpreters.
We had a real problem when we launched it. It is now operating at 90% fulfilment, the number of complaints has absolutely plummeted, and we have decided to reinvest some of the savings in order to put some more money back into the system so that interpreters can see more financial gain in some circumstances because we have recognised that the savings we were making enabled us to do that. It was not, “Let’s change the interpreters’ contract and save money and have a worse service.” It was, “We have a not very well-functioning service; we can improve it and do it at lower cost.” That is actually what is happening."