Gasp! Shock! Outrage!

It looks like Parliament (at least a small part of it) is start­ing to get the ball rolling on improv­ing govern­ment language! Not that they swear *all* the time, but as you are all no doubt aware, they really may as well do, for the amount of sense they make.

A Parliament Select Committee (that is, a group of people who look at one topic in partic­u­lar) is look­ing for your examples of bad use of language in govern­ment mater­ial. They just want a para­graph or two to illus­trate the case — I don’t think they’re ready for entire leaf­lets circled in red pen!

Email one or two short examples to It could be some­thing on your tax return, your pass­port applic­a­tion, a confus­ing bit in the jobseekers allow­ance (or whatever it’s called now) guid­ance, or even some of the more obscure bits from the consulta­tions I’ve been translating!

Here’s a (rather too long) example, with edit­ors notes in red to start you off:

From Care Matters: Time for Change

Improving the role of the corpor­ate parent 

the corpor­ate what, now?, as part of children“s trusts who?, is key to improv­ing the outcomes what kind of outcomes? for chil­dren in care. It is with the corpor­ate parent that respons­ib­il­ity and account­ab­il­ity for the well­being and future prospects of chil­dren in care ulti­mately rest. A good corpor­ate parent must offer everything that a good parent would, includ­ing stabil­ity. It must address both the diffi­culties which chil­dren in care exper­i­ence and the chal­lenges of parent­ing does this mean corpor­ate parent­ing, or the other sort? within a complex system of differ­ent services. Equally, it is import­ant that chil­dren have a chance to shape and influ­ence don’t they mean the same thing? the parent­ing they receive. To improve the role of the corpor­ate parent we are:
  • Expecting every local author­ity to put in place arrange­ments is that the same as arran­ging them, or do they just hire the room and hope someone turns up? for a “Children in Care Council”, with direct links to the Director of Children“s Services and Lead Member what’s one of those?. This will give chil­dren in care a forum to express their views and influ­ence is the coun­cil required to take their views into account? the services and support they receive;
  • Expecting every local author­ity to set out its “Pledge” isn’t that a kind of polish? to chil­dren in care. The pledge will cover the services and support chil­dren in care should expect to receive;
  • Making clear that the Director of Children“s Services and Lead Member for Children“s Services Oh right, so this lead member is also part of chil­dren’s services should be respons­ible for lead­ing improve­ments in corpor­ate parent­ing are they account­able to anyone?;
  • Disseminating Government funded corpor­ate parent­ing train­ing mater­i­als does this mean actual train­ing, or just leaf­lets?, developed by the National Children“s Bureau, to help author­it­ies to ensure that effect­ive arrange­ments are in place locally;
  • Introducing an Annual Stocktake is this Tesco now? of the outcomes for chil­dren in care. This national minis­terial what does minis­terial mean event like a confer­ence, or some­thing? will review progress for chil­dren in care with key stake­hold­ers what are stake­hold­ers, again? and repres­ent­at­ives of local govern­ment, health services and young people in care; and 
  • Introducing a three year programme of propor­tion­ate propor­tion­ate to what? inspec­tion, led by Ofsted, of how local author­it­ies are improv­ing outcomes for chil­dren in care.

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Corinne Pritchard

Information Designer at Simply Understand
I believe design and design­ers can and should make the world a better place. I love design­ing things that help people under­stand complex ideas.

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