Concerns over CCG contracts for interpreting

By NUBSLI | Published on 2 November 2018

Last updated on May 26th, 2023 at 10:52 pm

Related: framework agreements Language Empire NHS England

To whom it may concern

We are the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI, a Branch Of Unite) and represent the BSL/English interpreting and translation profession. We are writing on behalf of our members, who have asked us to contact you to clarify the situation regarding contracts for face-to-face interpreting being tendered for and awarded in your area.

It has been brought to our attention that Language Empire has been contacting BSL/English interpreters to ask them to provide services to them, stating that they have just won several contracts from the CCG [Clinical Commissioning Group]. We would be grateful if you would confirm whether this information is correct.

Assuming this is correct, we are obliged to express our grave concerns at this.

Language Empire have an extremely poor reputation within the interpreting field. We are writing to seek reassurance that Language Empire have not been awarded this contract by claiming that they can provide BSL/English interpreting services at rates which are below market rates and that the bid they put forward allows interpreters who undertake bookings to be remunerated under business terms which are inline with industry standards.

If this is not the case, the result may be that interpreters will not be able to provide services to you through Language Empire, and subsequently Language Empire will be unable to meet their contractual obligations.

In addition, the fact that Language Empire was recently forced to pay substantial costs and damages in court for unethical business practices and were criticised heavily for “conduct so exceptional as to amount to an abuse of process” cannot be ignored. Our members are extremely concerned that this agency might still being awarded contracts to work with vulnerable clients and would like this matter to be investigated as a matter of urgency.

We would also like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to a piece of work we produced that highlights the issues of working through large contracts. Our Dossier of Disgrace provides case studies, as well as a comprehensive list of asks which we will be be taking to MPs.

We look forward to receiving a response at your earliest convenience.