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Cuts to Welsh language in government’s draft budget criticised by campaigners

17 Dec 2019 5 minutes Read
The National Eisteddfod’s Gorsedd on the move. Picture by National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Language campaigners have criticized spending cuts on specific projects for the Welsh language in the Welsh Government’s draft budget.

The Welsh Government’s budget is increasing by over £ 1 billion, from £19 billion this year to £ 20.2 billion next year – a 5.8% increase in cash terms.

However, budgets for spending on the Welsh language in particular are falling in real terms by nearly £400,000 or 1.6% – including money that goes to organizations such as the Urdd and the Eisteddfod.

In addition, Ministers plan to cut the Welsh in Education budget by £1.65 million, or a 15% cut in real terms, next year as well.

In response to the news, Tamsin Davies of Cymdeithas yr Iaith said: “These cuts are unjustifiable. The Government has more than a billion extra pounds for next year, so at least the Government would be expected to increase Welsh language budgets in line with inflation.

“However, given their ambitious targets and their desire to increase the use of the Welsh language, they should actually be increasing the expenditure on Welsh language projects far more than that.

“The language seems to be no priority for this Government, and that is disappointing. Countries like the Basque Country spend far more than us – almost five times more – and that is one reason for the boom in use of Basque.”

 

‘Problems’

Nick Ramsay AM, The Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Finance, also criticised the draft budget, calling it a missed opportunity to deliver transformative change in Wales.

While acknowledging that the budget had been prepared against a backdrop of a General Election and Brexit, he said that a government must be able to plan and prepare for any number of eventualities.

Mr Ramsay welcomed the proposal to spend £421 million more on health, £200m for education infrastructure, and £140m on decarbonisation but said the jury is still out on whether these projects would deliver the change Wales.

“We now really need to see where the money will go,” he said.

“This budget sees an extra £600 million from the UK Treasury on top of the nearly £15 billion block grant it receives from the UK Government – not forgetting that for each £1 spent per head in England, £1.20 is pent per head in Wales.

“Will the extra funding for health really alleviate the problems of national scandals such as Betsi Cadwalladr University Health Board or Cwm Taf, and that half of Wales’ health boards are in some form of Welsh Government intervention? Will it improve A & E waiting times that have been missed again? Time will tell.

“Will the additional funding for education improve our country’s PISA ratings, or will we continue to languish in fourth place out of the UK nations?

“Will the budget actually deliver improvements to our road network, or following the debacle of the £144m spent on the M4 Relief Road inquiry – the Road to Nowhere – will we see more dithering and indecisiveness, which affects businesses, commuters, and the economy?

Mr Ramsay, who represents Monmouth, described the extra £4.8m to prop up Cardiff Airport as “concerning” and said there should be no “blank cheque” for the airport.

“Welsh Conservatives of course support initiatives to mitigate climate change and planting hundreds of thousands of trees in Uganda is all well and good, but we also need ambitious targets for tree planting and wider decarbonisation in Wales,” he said.

“It’s also concerning to see the Welsh Government propping up Cardiff Airport with an extra £4.8m when there is no evidence that previous “blank cheques” have had any sustainable effect.

“Welsh Conservatives welcome the considerable sums of money now coming to Wales as a result of the spending decisions of the UK Government.

“We now need a budget that delivers a dynamic, forward-thinking, and agile Wales but this budget falls sadly short.”

‘Out of ideas’

Plaid Cymru shadow minister for the economy and finance Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said that the Welsh Government’s draft budget lacked ambition.

“Twenty years of Labour rule in Wales has shown us that more money for our NHS doesn’t in itself mean better services,” he said.

“What we need to see from this Labour government is a strategic plan on how this extra funding will be spent on preventative measures instead of the continued mismanagement of our NHS and health boards that are still in special measures.

“Meanwhile, local government is still not being given the level of funding it so desperately needs to deliver crucial frontline public services.

“The £140m package for low carbon transport is not nearly ambitious enough and such a small package in the face of such a colossal global climate crisis shows that this Labour government isn’t taking the issue seriously enough.

“This is a Labour government that’s out of ideas and almost out of time.

“To compound the problem of Labour mismanagement, the truth is, that the Welsh Government’s budget will be tied to the priorities of whatever government is sitting in Westminster, and we know that UK Governments – of whichever colour – care little about addressing Wales’ needs.”

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John Evans
John Evans
1 year ago

go and pay tax elsewhere then – maybe england, then ‘your tax’ won’t get spent on my nations culture. more to come!

Theresa Green
Theresa Green
1 year ago
Reply to  John Evans

Wales is the place in which I detest the way in which the Welsh language is thrust upon me. Let the minority who wish to use it carry on but why should the majority have to suffer it and pay for it?

Theresa Green
Theresa Green
1 year ago
Reply to  Theresa Green

I was born here and I reside here.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 year ago
Reply to  Theresa Green

Then your dislike of the country’s national language is difficult to fathom. It belongs to every Welsh person — siaradwr neu di-Gymraeg.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 year ago

You can say that about the English, French and German Languages, but a nation needs to promote its own culture and language. Cymraeg (Welsh) is our national language alongside English which is spoken worldwide.

Not supporting the country’s own language is a form of imperialism.

Theresa Green
Theresa Green
1 year ago

Wales is part of the United Kingdom
National Language of the UK is English

Jason
Jason
1 year ago

Well I strongly object to your support for cultural erasure. Welsh, like many native minority languages around the world, survives despite repeated efforts to kill it off over the centuries. Whether Maori in New Zealand, Welsh or Scots Gaelic in Britain, Navajo or Choctaw in the United States, these languages are part of the rich fabric and history of their lands and should not be allowed to die (read: be killed off) because of some small minded, unimaginative, dystopian mentality of “usefulness”/profit. Wonder where someone with such a mentality stands on the “usefulness” of art and literature?

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason

We’ll get loads of this kind of b.s from now on. Boris dictating spending patterns and servile Drakeford and his crew happily cutting back on support for the language, keen to deliver assimilation while messing everything else up.

Theresa Green
Theresa Green
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason

Art and literature do not get thrown at me wherever I go on Wales

Theresa Green
Theresa Green
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason

Art and literature do not get thrown at me wherever I go in Wales.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 year ago
Reply to  Theresa Green

You are just going to have to learn to live with the fact that Wales is claiming its language back, that the number of speakers will continue to grow (despite continued unregulated settlement from outside Wales), and that the language’s public profile will not be going away.

A prophecy is buried in Eglwyseg
A prophecy is buried in Eglwyseg
1 year ago

You can have your language or you can have your land. If you seek to save both you will lose both.

If you save your language, you can have your land later. If you save your land, you lose your language. Which one do you choose?

John Evans
John Evans
1 year ago

hey ‘a prophecy is buried in eglwyseg’ have you ever seen mystery men?

A prophecy is buried in Eglwyseg
A prophecy is buried in Eglwyseg
1 year ago
Reply to  John Evans

I don’t need a skull in a glowing bowling ball to see the future.

John Evans
John Evans
1 year ago

maybe not but perhaps you need a future to see a skull in a glowing bowling ball

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 year ago

You can do both. The oracle has spoken.

Penderyn
Penderyn
1 year ago

England can do both, so why not Cymru?

A coslett
A coslett
1 year ago

Time is running out for Labour in Cymru as the results of the recent a General Election should have taught them no matter how much they have tried to distance themselves from their London leadership they are, deservedly, tarred with the same indifferent attitude when it comes to the country they are supposed to administer. Reducing the level of funding for Welsh language initiatives hardly comes as a surprise when their core support is to be found in areas of our country where it is not the.majority tongue. With enthusiasm for Labour failing and loyalty to a past glory no… Read more »

John Ellis
John Ellis
1 year ago
Reply to  A coslett

I try to make a point of watching First Minister’s Questions when I remember, and overall I do get a sense of doggedness but also weariness in Mark Drakeford’s performance. Twenty years in office – even accepting that a fair chunk of that time has involved governing in coalition – is a very long time, and governments simply run out of steam. I can’t escape the impression that this Welsh Labour government has done just that. I also get the impression that the odd Welsh Labour backbencher – think Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent – feels the same. You’re… Read more »

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago

For some unknown reason a chunk of these comments has disappeared – any reason ?

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago

By my calculation, if £400k is 1.6% then the total budget for Welsh language ‘stuff’ is £25 million. Sounds quite a lot at first but, if one considers the Assembly’s negligent 2016 selling off of public owned land, in Lisvane, for £1.8 million, when its real value as building land was at least £39 million, then the Assembly quibbling over £25 million is a bit miserly. I realise the WAG ‘subcontracted’ the sale of land(s) and so considered themselves absolved of blame but still a bit of a cheek to now be niggardly in pursuit of fiscal prudence! Blaming it… Read more »

Sue Sutton
Sue Sutton
1 year ago

Children come out of the Welsh education system with better results than the English. The waiting lists are long for places and more and more companies are looking for Welsh speakers. Hands off our money.

Joanne
Joanne
1 year ago

Too much public money is thrown at the welsh language when there’s more important things to be going on with

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 year ago
Reply to  Joanne

If the people of Wales thought that way, funding for the revival of the language would have been shelved years ago. Learn to live with that fact, or go home if you can’t. Thanks for your contribution.

Jacqui A
Jacqui A
1 year ago
Reply to  Joanne

Yes Joanne, I agree! Whilst I drive in to Newport everyday and see people living in tents under the bypass I cant help but think we are failing Welsh people in far more important ways than losing a 2nd class language which does nothing to benefit Wales on a global stage. It’s almost 2020 move with the times!!!

O.R
O.R
1 year ago
Reply to  Jacqui A

Without the language Cymru wouldn’t be Cymru, it would just be England with mountains, and I would frankly prefer to die in a ditch as some pillock remarked, than live in such a place

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 year ago
Reply to  Jacqui A

You two ladies are so out of sync with the general opinion in Cymru that it’s almost surreal. Move with the times.

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