Tamsin Constable

Jargon wastes taxpayers’ money.

People won’t be able to get the help they need unless public bodies ditch jargon, the Local Government Association said today.

“During the recession, it is vital that we explain to people in plain English how to get access to the 800 different services that local government provides,” said Cllr Margaret Eaton, the LGA’s Chair. “From claiming council tax benefit and how older people can get a lift to the shops, to telling people how they can get their old fridges picked up or how to report criminals who flytip, people need to know what is available to them.”

The LGA today published a list of 200 words and phrases that it wants public bodies to stop using and sent it to councils all over the country. It suggests alternatives – use ‘buy’ instead of ‘procure’, for example.

But where the word or phrase was too dreadful even to merit an alternative, the LGA has instead written ‘Why use at all?’ And so, with nothing better to do (except two loads of laundry, which I’m ignoring), I counted the ‘Why use at all’ comments. There are 42. Hell’s bells, that’s nearly a quarter of the whole list! Words that, when cross-examined with ‘what does this mean, exactly?’, cough and sputter into meaningless nothingness and absurdity!

This is more than eye-rolling fun and smidgen of smugness. If jargon blocks people from getting the support they need, it could, the LGA says, “lead to more people ending up homeless or bankrupt.”

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