NAO Report: Incorrect Average Income Modelling
The National Audit Office report states that the average drop in the income of interpreters is only 8% compared to the old arrangements:
‘Our modelling shows that, under the terms initially set out, average income for an interpreter would drop by some 20 per cent. The reduction in income varies by the amount and type of jobs taken but there is a marked reduction under all scenarios. It is important to note that changes to pay and benefits introduced after the contract came into operation have subsequently reduced the average drop in income to 8 per cent, compared with the old arrangements.’
However, according to a sample comparison using current ALS and NA rates (which can be found here), the remuneration of an interpreter attending court for half a day (3 hours attendance, travelling 29 miles in 2 hours, incurring parking expenses) has dropped by 57.85 per cent.
If an interpreter attends the same court for a one hour hearing, the rate paid under the FWA is, in fact, below the National Minimum Wage, indicating that the FWA resulted in a 60-80 per cent pay cut for legal interpreters.
This suggests that the modelling used by the NAO is incorrect and needs to be checked.
I include details of the interpreter payment rates under the NA and the FWA here.
One of the input errors may be that the NAO report mistakenly shows the NA minimum daily payment to be £85 INCLUDING travel time.
Figure 8 Payments to interpreters under the national agreement
Monday-Friday rates Minimum daily payment (paid for jobs lasting three hours or less, including travel time) £85.
Some courts incorporated the travel time into the attendance time after the introduction of the new HMCTS interpreter claim forms in 2010.
I raised this issue with Michael Logan, Senior Operations and Policy Manager of Her Majesty's Courts Service, who confirmed in September 2010 that in accordance with the Terms and Conditions issued by HM Courts Service, the attendance and travel time are considered and paid for separately.