Proposed enhancements to Capita linguist payments
Reading through the MoJ's response to the Justice Select Committee report, there are so many points that have to be challenged and demolished that it’s difficult to know where to start, but let’s begin with the proposed changes to linguist payments. It should not be forgotten that when National Audit Office, Public Accounts Committee and Justice Select Committee were investigating the FWA, Capita was paying 40p/mile and a £5 supplement for online booking, since then Capita cut the rate to 20p/mile and scrapped the supplement. If Helen Grant considers the proposed enhancements as a step forward, they come after Capita has already taken 2 steps backwards.
1. Paying 20p/mile for the first 10 miles of each leg of a journey. That’s worth £4, but is still small change compared to what Capita linguists lost when the mileage rate was cut from 40p/mile.
2. Tier 1 linguists to be paid £22/hour for Tier 2 assignments, so that’s an extra £2/hour, but let’s not forget withdrawal of the £5 online booking supplement.
3. Payment for 15 minute blocks. On average, this would mean being paid for an extra 7 minutes per assignment, or £2.56 per assignment. See 2 above.
4. Cancellation fees. It remains to be seen what the cancellation fee is going to be, and how short the notice has to be before it becomes payable. I wonder if this will coincide with Capita introducing a cancellation penalty on linguists that cancel their booking at short notice.
5. Daily fee to help cover incidental costs that a linguist may occur. Note the use of the phrase ‘help to cover’, rather than ‘to cover’. It remains to be seen how much this fee is going to be. Maybe on arrival at court, the booking clerk will give each linguist £1 to help cover the cost of a cup of tea and a packet of crisps.
It would be interesting to know how these are intended to be paid to linguists. It would only make sense for these to be paid through Capita, otherwise it completely undermines the benefit of only dealing with one supplier. This can only mean that MoJ is going to increase the rates it pays to Capita in order to cover the cost of these enhanced payments. Given that what Capita charges now is commercially sensitive and therefore not revealed by MoJ (though everyone has figured out what it is) will the MoJ be disclosing how much extra it intends to pay Capita?
Could this be the Trojan horse the MoJ is looking for to funnel extra cash into Capita’s pockets so that they can start to recoup their losses and make profits instead? After all, isn’t that the whole point of outsourcing? Whenever public money is being spent, shouldn’t our chums in big business be given the opportunity to line their pockets with taxpayer’s money?