Trust spends £1.3m on interpreters

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More than £1.3m was spent by the Southern Health & Social Care Trust on interpreters last year, almost half the entire Northern Ireland budget.

The Southern Trust spent £1,309,514 in 2014 on interpreters. The entire spend for Northern Ireland was £2,906,967.

Upper Bann has also the third highest number of children who don’t have English as a first language after Belfast and Fermanagh, according to figures revealed to TUV Assembly member Jim Allister through an Assembly Question.

Upper Bann has 1,934 children who don’t have English as a first language which represents 8.5% of the population.

The North Antrim MLA said: “The face of several constituencies is changing dramatically, with South Belfast, Fermanagh & South Tyrone and Upper Bann having in or about 10% of schoolchildren not having English as their first language.

“The geographical correlation between health spend on interpreters and high levels of immigrant children in our schools is obvious with the Southern Health Trust spending £1.3m per annum on interpreters.

Mr Allister added: “In a climate of spates of racist criminal attacks - which must be met with the full rigour of the law - it is difficult sometimes to draw attention to issues of which the public need to be aware. These figures graphically illustrate the impact of the EU’s open door immigration policy within this part of the UK.”

When asked for a statement on the latest figures produced to Mr Allister, a spokesperson for the Southern Health & Social Care Trust spokesperson referred to a statement they issued in January and stated that providing interpreters is a legal requirement.

“The Southern Trust has one of the largest ethnic minority populations in Northern Ireland. Approximately 7% of the population in Dungannon is from ethnic minorities; the Northern Ireland average is 3% (approx.). The overall population of the Southern area is now the second largest in Northern Ireland and is projected to grow by 13.5% by 2020. Our ethnic minority population is also likely to increase significantly by 2020 as birth rates are projected to keep growing. With access to interpreters for 36 minority ethnic languages, the Trust provides interpreting services on request. The most frequently requested languages in the Southern Trust are currently Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese. During the period 1st Oct 2011 – 30th Aug 2012 the total number of requests was 35,598.”