HC Deb 09 July 2001 vol 371 c371W
Lynne Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the provision of interpreting services at Jobcentres and social security offices. [1127]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

If a job seeker whose first language is not English requires an interpreter, Employment Service (ES) policy states that the Jobcentre must provide this service to ensure our obligations to equal opportunities are met. ES star f have access to a range of interpreter provision which includes: using colleagues within the Jobcentre, local authority or community who speak the relevant language; asking if the jobseeker would like to bring a friend or relative along to translate; and, through a contract with the Benefits Agency, access to the telephone interpreting service 'Language Line'.

The Benefits Agency also have a responsibility to make appropriate provision to communicate with customers who do not speak English, who use British Sign Language, or who require the services of a lipspeaker or deafblind interpreter. The policy for the delivery of interpreting services is: where it is necessary to interview a customer who does not speak English or Welsh, arrangements must be made within one working day to provide an interpreter1.

1 The arrangements should be made within one working day, the interview does not have to take place within one working day.

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