Short Notice Bookings: statistics from the week 24-29 September
A response has been received to an FOI request (80582) regarding short-notice out-of-contract bookings relating to the last week of September last year. There seems little point in doing an in-depth statistical analysis. Anyone wishing to do so might follow the methodology I set out in my previous post on a similar sample week from February 2012. Some things do leap out however.
(1) Such is the lack of care and attention paid to the request that the total monetary value of all claims received is given as £12,011.04. In fact the total should be £4,871.29, as some rudimentary arithmetic will reveal. The figure of £12,011.94 is precisely the same total - to the penny - as that given in response to my earlier FOI relating to the February week (79896). Clearly the statisticians have got their figures in a twist. Of course, the fact that the MoJ have little interest in the accuracy of their own statistics is hardly news to the interpreting community. Yet to confuse two sets of statistics in this way seems inexcusable - to the point of being pitiable.
(2) The figures relate to bookings in the South-East region of HMCTS which is comprised of 9 areas. I estimate this region is responsible for about 16% of the national HMCTS out-of-contract spend on interpreters. On that basis, the gross figure of £4,871.25 for the South-East, if extrapolated across the country, would suggest a total national out-of-contract spend of at least £121,782.25 for the whole of September. This does not take into account short-notice bookings for tribunals and Crown Courts however. Nor does it take account of the fact that our September week (24-29) might have been unrepresentatively low on bookings. The £121,782.25 figure is therefore more likely to be an underestimation. £140,000 would be a closer approximation. This figure conflicts with Grayling’s figures of £70,000 for the whole of September. It is twice as high. Where did Grayling get his information?
(3) A previous FOI response (79446) rejected my request for a 6-month breakdown of out-of-contract spend, claiming that the South-East was receiving an average of 90 claims a week. As that FOI response had stated, about 3870 forms will have been received between February and November at the South-East offices in Lowestoft. To extract statistics from so many forms would have required too many civil service working days thereby exceeding the statutory limits. Yet during the two weeks for which the MoJ have deigned to produce statistics, a mere 115 forms had been sent to Lowestoft (80 in February, 35 in September). That works out at an average of 57.5 per week, not 90. I reckon I could have processed the 35 forms received in the September week in about three hours. They could have paid me £75 and, as a bonus, I would have got the adding-up right.
(4) Lastly I am curious to know why a court in the Thames Valley region needed an Urdu interpreter in September. From a previous FOI (79918) relating to the pilot scheme for returning short-notice bookings to the contract, I had been led to understand that all Thames Valley courts had been participating in the pilot scheme since June. Either you have a pilot scheme or you don’t. If you mix and match in-contract jobs with out-of-contract jobs you risk making your pilot scheme meaningless.
The new average figure for an out-of-contract interpreter claim is now down to £139.18 per day.