NEARLY £1 million has been spent on translation and interpreting services in the last four years amid dramatic growth in the Capital’s ethnic minority population, new figures have revealed.
Rising immigration has driven up spending on translations of council literature from just under £114,000 in 2011-12 to almost £145,000 this year.
The amount splashed out for interpreters has jumped from around £144,000 to more than £200,000.
City bosses believe the trend is due mainly to an influx of new residents from the rest of the European Union, as strong labour markets here draw in overseas workers.
They said total spending of more than £900,000 over the last three financial years was aimed at ensuring settlers meet immigration requirements and can access key services such as healthcare, housing and education.
The figures include face-to-face interpreting services, as well as investment in translations of council leaflets and information brochures for hundreds of recent arrivals from countries including Poland, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Edinburgh’s growing diversity has been underlined by languages which were most translated over the spending period, with Polish, Chinese, Arabic, Bengali, Urdu and Punjabi heading the list.
Migrants said they were not surprised by increased spending on translation and interpretation and predicted it would continue as Edinburgh’s economy gains strength. Bongayi Patty, 42, a nurse and mum of four who came to the Capital from her native Zimbabwe in 1999, said she knew of at least ten friends who had made extensive use of local services. She said: “With a few of them it was to do with accessing health services – they didn’t have enough knowledge [of English] or information on what they had to do, so they had to have someone helping them with things like filling out forms and documents.”
Edinburgh’s emergence as a fast-growing melting pot is already apparent in its schools, with teachers last year providing English as an additional language (EAL) support to 8.6 per cent of enrolled children – up from 3.7 per cent in 2005.
And at Dalry Primary, where around three-quarters of pupils speak English as a second language, youngsters have published a book, called A Whole New World, to celebrate their school’s diversity.
“Edinburgh is definitely becoming more diverse compared to when I came over,” said Ms Patty. “I think [demand for translation and interpreting] will grow.”
Council bosses said providing high quality language services would be crucial as the city becomes ever more cosmopolitan.
A spokeswoman said: “It’s vital that the council ensures that the needs of all residents are met, and that people whose first language is not English understand the services that they are being offered, be it education, housing or social services.”