Decline in numbers speaking Welsh in language's traditional communities

The Welsh Government has been called upon to urgently outline how it intends to arrest the decline in the prevalence of Welsh speakers in many of the nation’s traditional Welsh-speaking communities.

Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey and Ceredigion are the three Local Authority areas in Wales with the highest proportion of people, over the age of three, who say they can speak the language.

However, new figures – uncovered by the Welsh Conservatives – outline a significant fall in those who say they can speak the language over the last decade.

Between 2006 and 2016, there has been a 4.8 percentage fall in Ceredigion, a 3.7 percentage fall in Gwynedd and a 0.5 percentage fall in Anglesey. Elsewhere in Wales, the proportion of speakers in Flintshire has fallen by 6.9%.

Shadow Secretary for the Welsh Language, Suzy Davies AM, said: “These worrying figures emphasise a decline in the prominence of Welsh speakers in many of the language’s traditional heartland areas.

“To stem this trend, the Welsh Government must overhaul the strategy for Welsh language in education, helping all children in Wales to become confident in communicating in Welsh from the earliest age and encouraging them to use it outside the education environment.

“Reports commissioned concerning the language and the economy, and local government, could also support progress – but the Welsh Government needs to act faster in responding to recommendations of the first; and must issue a swift response to the second.

“Whilst there are some positive developments, such as an increase in speakers in some areas of the language’s less-traditional areas, these figures potentially point to a decline in the language’s use in everyday life in many parts of Wales, and Welsh Ministers must urgently outline their response.”