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Drakeford asks ONS to investigate why different surveys show rise and fall in Welsh speakers

14 Dec 2022 3 minute read
First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

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.”

‘Must survive’

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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Arwyn
Arwyn
1 month ago

Self-determination. The means by which nations choose their own political, economic and cultural development. The future of Cymraeg comes under cultural development, yes? Self-determination necessary then? Statehood it is then Mr Drakeford!

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

MD can fluff and puff all he wants – we all know the truth ! 1. Percentages have fallen due to many areas along the M4 and A55 now allowing cheaper housing to city prices in nice rural environs 2. Certain councils in Wales being very relucant to say the least about bilingual educational opportunities. 3. The Welsh Government’s “ new “ houses philosophy for areas not needing top down dictates on development numbers. 4. Certain though not all councillors appointing lead officials with little empathy with Wales or its culture. Look 👀 in the mirror 🪞 Mark and wake… Read more »

Pary Isaac Jones
Pary Isaac Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

5 Welsh speakers forced to seek jobs in England because there are more opportunities there.
6 Welsh speakers with partners who do not speak Welsh and who have professional qualifications but cannot get jobs using those qualifications because they do not speak Welsh.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Possibly the percentage of Welsh speakers is going down because thousands of English people are moving in here. It would be interesting to learn the annual increase in population over the last decade because of incomers. Due to my wife’s illhealth we visit several hospitals in South Wales and all we hear is English accents everywhere both patients and staff. I only hope the Welsh government is claiming for this increase to the Wales NHS allowance from Westminster.

Pary Isaac Jones
Pary Isaac Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Should the English National Heath service seek recompense from Wales for Welsh speakers living in England after all Jones is the second most common surname in England, and Thomas and Williams also make it into the top 10 most common surnames.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago

You may wish to reconsider that option, since a reciprocal arrangement would mean that Cymru would receive more in recompense than it paid out.

Radian Prys
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Try finding a hospital in Powys. The Welsh ambulances in Shropshire might surprise you.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

I do not think the Welsh are moving into England at the same high rate that the English are moving into Wales. The English can afford the prices here but the Welsh cannot afford the silly English prices.

Radian Prys
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

The greatest Welsh speaking city that has ever existed was not in Wales but England. Lerpwl gyda agos I gant capeli cymraeg a fwy o bobol yn siarad Cyraeg than all the cities of Wales combined but we will forget that and brush it under the carpet.

Jon_S
Jon_S
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

But the actual number has dropped, not just the percentage…

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

We know this figure from the census – it’s 55,000:

“There were more deaths than births in Wales between 2011 and 2021. The population growth since 2011 is therefore due to positive net migration into Wales (approximately 55,000 usual residents).”

https://www.gov.wales/demography-and-migration-wales-census-2021-html

Jon_S
Jon_S
1 month ago

Different questions asked in each? Nuances in meaning? Flawed methodology by the ONS? Compare the results of pre-election balloting with the actual poll for similar discrepancies.

Iago
Iago
1 month ago

We should be asking why the Census results from 2001, despite devolution, have shown a decline in the number of Welsh speakers. Therefore, devolution has had a negative impact on the language.

From 1981 to 2001 the future of the language looked more positive. And who was running the country during that period?

As I have said previously it’s the responsibility of the Welsh people to keep the language alive. You can’t keep blaming other people.

Preserving a painted Tryweryn on a bit of rock will do nothing to save the language.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Iago

A responsibility kids won’t grow up embracing because everything that’s shoved down their throat is in English. It definitely falls on government to make sure The native culture of said country not only survives, but thrives.

David Thomas
David Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  Riki

The Welsh education system is on a mess. WAG have given up on the pisa grading. Not one Welsh school makes the UK top 10, despite millions, £30 million last year, being spent on it. This money for favoured projects comes out of the allocated budget, the extra AM’s will also draw down on the budget. Hence certain areas, such as NHS are under funded. Remember Drippy when health ministered voted for a cut, and has not passed on all funding consistently. Price the nationalist pushing his nationalist agenda needs to go But Labour need him to hold on to… Read more »

Cath
Cath
1 month ago

It’s no use asking people if they speak Welsh if they feel pressured to say yes. It would be useful to have some agreed standards of language proficiency and fluency that everyone understands. (maybe like Japan where you have different levels for different kinds of employment). Adult learners need something to aim for beyond talking about the weather.

mike
mike
1 month ago

Hilarious Typical Labour Dont like the answers Challenge the results. More waste of our money

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
1 month ago

The primary killer of the Welsh language is not enough SOCIAL housing which give locals the first refusal to rent or buy for locally priced accommodation. Most new builds might be partially affordable but no priority to locals. Second homes are not the cause….The Senedd must promote much more social housing.

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

The fact is that in the North East of Wales youngsters are not interested in the slightest to learn their mother tongue, their parents might think that is a good idea but the young don’t. In areas like Rhyl, Prestatyn, Holywell, Mold, Buckley and Wrexham, the teenagers are for more interested in talking with a scouse accent than learning how to say ‘Good Morning’ in Welsh, Sad though it may be but myself, my wife, and my son are all Welsh speakers, however if I venture into a shop, garage, or meet someone in the street and greet them in… Read more »

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