Drakeford asks ONS to investigate why different surveys show rise and fall in Welsh speakers
The First Minister has said that he is investigating why the Census showed a fall in the number of Welsh speakers while the yearly figures published by the Office of National Statistics’ have shown a rise.
The ONS’ Annual Population Survey has shown a consistent rise in the number of Welsh speakers, to 899,000 in June of this year.
However, when the Welsh language census results from 2021 were published last week they showed a further decline to 538,000 people.
Speaking in the Senedd, Mark Drakeford had said that he had intended to commission work to discover why they were seeing different figures from different surveys.
He added that he was “still confident about the future of the language here in Wales” but understood that the Census results might result in people “losing confidence”.
“But, having had time to consider the census results and to see that comparison between what’s in the census and what’s in the figures that we gather annually, then I think there’s something important to pursue there,” he said.
“That’s why I’ve taken the opportunity to speak with those responsible for statistics within the Welsh Government, and, having done that, I will write to Sir Ian Diamond, who chairs the ONS, which is responsible for the census, to ask them to carry out a piece of work alongside us in order to see what’s behind those figures that we saw published last week and the figures that the ONS has published year on year now, which identify a growth in the use of the Welsh language.
“In doing that, then I do think that we can learn some lessons to see what more we can do to give people confidence here in Wales to use the Welsh language and to develop the use of the Welsh language and the numbers who are able to speak Welsh in future.”
The First Minister was responding to a question by Delyth Jewell who said that the “recent census results have given us cause for concern”.
“The example of the Welsh language has long been a beacon of hope for minority languages across the world for many years,” she said. ]#
“It’s the subject of hope, and, amongst the clamours of dismay about these figures, I want to understand how the Welsh Government will succeed in offering new hope and acting on it. Raymond Williams said that: ‘To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing’.
“This turning point must be a light in the dark and turn goodwill into determination. Our old language must survive. How will you make the language’s survival not only possible, but inevitable?”
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