The Welsh language society, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, have warned the Welsh government not to “rest on their laurels” after the number of Welsh speakers fell over the last year.
The number of Welsh speakers by September last year was 14,600 (0.7%) fewer than at the same date in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey.
The Welsh Government have set themselves a target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
According to the Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey the total number of Welsh speakers now equates to 874,600 people, or 29% of the population. In March 2010 731,000 or 25.2% of the populaton could speak Welsh.
“It’s important to remember that the Census is the benchmark for the million speakers target, as it provides far more comprehensive and reliable figures, but this survey should serve as a warning to the Government and its complacency,” said David Williams, vice-chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.
“With her proposed cuts to Welsh language budgets, the Minister Eluned Morgan and her Government are singling out the language for post-Brexit pain.
“There has been virtually no growth in the number of young people in Welsh-medium education over the past decade. On top of that, many Government policies, like promoting universities outside Wales and its focus on promoting extractive transport links, are promoting out-migration from Wales and Welsh-speaking communities.
“One of the answers is a Welsh-medium Education Act that will make teaching through the medium of Welsh the norm in every part of the country.”
According to the annual survey, the highest numbers of Welsh speakers continue to be found in Carmarthenshire (93,400) and Gwynedd (90,300). The highest percentages of Welsh speakers can be found in Gwynedd (76%) and the Isle of Anglesey (67%).
The lowest numbers of Welsh speakers are in Merthyr Tydfil (10,800) and Blaenau Gwent (11,500). The lowest percentages of Welsh speakers are in Bridgend (16%) and Blaenau Gwent (17%).