Agenda item

New framework for Translation and Interpretation Services, including British Sign Language - key decision

Report of Corporate Director for People


Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Schools, and Roz Howie, Commissioning and Partnerships, introduced the report seeking approval to tender for a multiple provider framework to deliver translation and interpretation services and approval of the associated budget.  They highlighted the following information:


a)  Nottingham City Council uses a number of suppliers to deliver translation and interpretation services to enable citizens with a language barrier or disability to access Council services;


b)  the current contracts are coming to an end in November and the Council is looking to establish a 4-year framework for multiple providers to deliver the translation and interpretation services, therefore supporting Best Value by consolidating providers with specialisms in specific areas;


c)  the intention is for the new framework to cover the full range of interpretation needs including non-standard British Sign Language and enable different dialects to be covered;


d)  when the current framework was put in place (pre-Covid pandemic), electronic methods were more expensive but this has now changed and is often better able to meet need.  The need is for electronic, telephone and face-to-face services;


e)  having a range of suppliers in one framework should enable translation and interpretation support to be obtained quickly when needed to support citizens;


f)  one of the key performance indicators for the contract will be non-attendance by an interpreter as this has a cost for the commissioning authority and is poor service for the citizen;


g)  the framework would also allow other commissioning authorities (Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust) to undertake their own call-offs, which again would support an integrated approach to access to translation services and achieve better value for money across the Integrated Care System.


During discussion and in response to questions from Committee members the following points were made:


h)  the ongoing Ockenden Review of maternity services provided by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has highlighted issues with translation services in the maternity units so it is good that the Trust will be able to use this framework to get rapid access to translation and interpretation services;


i)  suppliers will be encouraged to use local interpreters and this will be necessary for face-to-face translation in order to meet timeliness requirements;


j)  the proposed budget is based on the best estimate of demand, based on current spend.  It is an amalgamation of budgets across different services, for which a number of different budget holders are responsible;


k)  within the framework, use of cheaper suppliers can be prioritised to reduce spend.




(1)  to approve a tender process be undertaken for a multiple provider framework to deliver translation and interpretation services for a period of 4 years at a maximum total cost of £1,974,000;


(2)  to delegate authority to the


(a)  Director of Commissioning and Partnerships to approve and award the outcome of the tender process for the framework; and


(b)  Head of Personalisation, Contracting and Quality to enter into and sign an appropriate Framework Agreement and to award and sign call-off contracts for Nottingham City Council.


Reasons for recommendations


·  A Translation and Interpretation service is required to enable citizens access Council services where there is a Language barrier or other communication need, such as British Sign Language. This service is required to ensure that the Council are able to perform their duties appropriately and meet statutory responsibilities in terms of equality of access.


·  The existing arrangements are due to expire on 30 November 2023 and Nottingham City Council requires a new framework to ensure compliance with Nottingham City Councils Contract Procedure Rules and Best Value. For the new contract(s) award, the Procurement Team will be conducting an open tender process to establish a new framework which will be bespoke to Nottingham City Council, and which will allow other Commissioning Authorities (such as Nottinghamshire County Council and the Integrated Care Board) to have access and call off from it.


·  The establishment of the framework does not imply any commitment of spend on the part of Nottingham City Council and spend will be based on activity and usage. Establishing a multiple supplier framework will ensure there is a choice of providers for colleagues and to ensure that there is sufficient supply to meet demand.


·  The call-off process will encourage competitive pricing as suppliers will be called off based on specialism required, and best price.


Other options considered


·  Not to procure a translation and interpretation service. This is not possible as the services are required to ensure citizens are able to access Council services.


·  To extend the contract(s) to continue the service with the current provider(s). This is not an option, as all extension options in the current contracts have been utilised. The current arrangements were intended to be a short-term measure only whilst a more fit – for purpose arrangement was secured Currently there is duplication in the services that are commissioned and this is therefore not in line with Best Value.


·  To call off from existing established frameworks. This option was not considered to be suitable. This is because Nottingham City Council would like to have multiple providers to deliver these services. Creating a ‘framework within a framework’ is not compliant.

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