Question Time: When Victoria met Richard Benyon MP

Last Thursday, our Director, Victoria Williams, had the opportunity to attend a Business Breakfast event with our local MP, Richard Benyon.  Benyon is a Conservative MP and represents Newbury, so the event gave local businesses a chance to air issues whilst also looking for his support. Here’s what Victoria had to say.

I had already pre-empted this discussion with Richard Benyon during Deaf Lobby Day back in March. So for us, this was the perfect time to go into detail on two of the main agenda items that are affecting Deaf people.

CSS National Framework agreement for Interpretation and Translation Services

You may be aware; that there is a current tender opportunity to be a part of a National Framework for Interpretation and Translation.  This opportunity is open to both Spoken Language Agencies and Sign Language Interpreting Agencies and has various ‘lots’ – some to provide all languages and others to provide specific contracts for Sign Language Interpreting.
This is something that is definitely happening, and organisations will be able to bid for this at the end of November 2014 – this month!
While it’s exciting stuff, one main issue with this tender is that there is no stipulation for NRCPD registered Communication Professionals.  This is a great concern to the industry – not using trained and registered Communication Professionals could have serious repercussions on the deaf community.
There was a boot camp event as part of the Consultation process, and a number of organisations voiced the importance of NRCPD registration being added. So we are hoping that these recommendations will be listened to and acted upon in the final tender documents.
Meeting Richard Benyon was the perfect opportunity to stress further the importance of NRCPD registration for the CSS Framework.  This was a point that he noted, and we hope that his backing will ensure this detail is included.

Access to Work scheme

As you’ll have seen, Access to Work is another ‘theme’ at the moment that has gained lots of momentum and publicity (rightly so), as well as support from the deaf community, deaf organisations and the Interpreting profession.
I really wanted to take the opportunity to stress that; while we understand that the spending on Deaf people’s support needs may outweigh other groups, reducing the funding available would be hugely detrimental to the community.  I explained that the reduction would mean; that Deaf people would not have access to the necessary high-level support. In many cases already, Access to Work teams and authorising budgets that are lower than the rates of the freelance Communication Professional!

This has an impact on many levels:

  • Communication Professionals are being told to reduce their fees; due to the fact that an Access to Work adviser has suggested a rate of £22 per hour; for a Qualified BSL Interpreter (RSLI).
  • Rates for Communication Professionals will only continue to be pushed lower and lower due to competition
  • The Deaf person will be unable to find a Communication Professional; at such a low hourly rate
  • A busy Deaf person will be unable to choose an agency due to low funds, and have to self-arrange freelance Communication Professionals
  • Businesses like ours are not being given the opportunity to provide any services within Access to Work budget restraints

Richard Benyon’s clear message to these concerns; was that this scheme is currently under review, and recommendations are being considered during this process.  If these concerns are not represented in the findings – then this is the opportunity to raise these again.

This was an excellent opportunity to speak with an influential political figure.  We hope it went some way to justify why Access to work funding MUST NOT be reduced!

We would really like to hear your views on these issues; or how you’ve progressed any discussions from Deaf Lobby Day! Let us know here or by responding to our posts on Facebook and Twitter.