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Investigation under Section 17 of the Welsh Language Act 1993: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

The Welsh Language Commissioner has published an investigation report into the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission’s Welsh Language Scheme, operated by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The investigation was held following a complaint by a member of the public.
The complainant alleged that Welsh copies of correspondence did not arrive at the same time as the English versions (if at all) and that they had not been signed.
The Welsh Language Scheme made the following commitments: to issue a reply in Welsh to correspondence received in Welsh; to ensure that the target time for publishing or replying to correspondence is the same in Welsh and in English; to initiate correspondence with an individual, group or organisation in Wales bilingually; and to ensure that all hard-copy Welsh correspondence issued will be signed.
The Commissioner concluded that the DWP had failed to comply with the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission’s Welsh Language Scheme on the basis that many letters sent to them by the complainant in Welsh were not replied to, that Welsh letters were sent after the English letters, that initial correspondence with the other party was not bilingual and that the letters sent were not signed.
The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, said:
“DWP acknowledges it has failed to implement clauses in the language scheme. The case had an effect on the wellbeing of the individual and those dependent on him. The complainant told me that the process of having to fight for a service through the medium of Welsh had affected him, and that the whole experience had caused him mental strain and had impacted on his health, and that the language failings of this organisation had been a central part of this stress.”
The Commissioner has recommended practical steps the organisation can take to ensure that every correspondence will be sent bilingually in the future until they have established an individual’s language choice. She also recommended that arrangements are adopted to monitor whether letters received regarding child maintenance in Welsh receive a Welsh response within the organisation's normal response deadline.

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