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Local Offices (Interpreters)

Volume 167: debated on Monday 12 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will indicate for each of the Department's local offices in the Greater Manchester area his estimate of the percentage of callers who have a very low understanding of the English language; and whether these offices maintain lists of staff who are willing and able to act as interpreters for ethnic minority customers.

All the 23 DSS local offices in the Greater Manchester area estimate that up to 10 per cent. of their callers have a very low understanding of the English language. Of these, 12 offices—Bury, Cheetham, Chorlton, Failsworth, Farnworth, Hyde, Openshaw, Rochdale, Rusholme, Sale, Stockport North and Wigan—hold lists of staff willing and able to interpret for ethnic minority customers. Eleven offices—Ashton, Bolton, Leigh, Longsight, Manchester (Central), Middleton, Oldham, Salford North, Salford South, Stockport South and Wythenshawe—maintain effective arrangements for communicating with customers who have a very low understanding of the English language by other methods, such as the use of volunteer interpreters from the local community, including relatives and friends.