ACCORDING to new census figures, the number of Welsh-speakers in Wales has fallen for the second consecutive decade.
In 2021, an estimated 538,000 usual residents in Wales aged three years and over (17.8%) reported being able to speak Welsh, which is a decrease since 2011, when 562,000 (19%) said it applied to them.
The percentage of usual residents aged three years and over able to speak Welsh decreased between 2011 and 2021 except Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, and Merthyr Tydfil.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language has announced over £7m will be invested in 11 Welsh medium education and childcare projects across Wales, with 50 Welsh Medium childcare places to nurture a new generation of Welsh speakers.
This funding will increase opportunities for Welsh medium education, which is key to the Welsh Government’s goal of reaching one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
The Minister for Education, Jeremy Miles, said: “I’m pleased to see the plans for new projects which will support children and young people of all ages right across Wales. If we’re going to achieve our ambitious goal of a million Welsh speakers by 2050, it is crucial we put the next generation at the heart of our plans.
“My message is clear, I want Welsh-medium education to be an option for everyone and I want everyone to have the opportunity to be bilingual citizens of Wales.”
Plaid Cymru’s Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales, Cefin Campbell, had expressed his concern during the 2021 Census data release which shows the number of Welsh speakers in Pembrokeshire has fallen by 2.1% over the past decade.
Cefin Campbell MS said: “Figures for the Welsh language across Mid & West Wales are hugely disappointing and clearly raise significant concerns.”
The Welsh government set a target to have one million speakers in Wales by 2050 six years ago as questions must be asked about the extent the Labour Welsh Government has provided effective leadership on Welsh language issues over recent years, particularly in growing Welsh medium education.
Responding to the news on November, 6 that the number of Welsh speakers has fallen over the last 10 years, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has called for action to halt depopulation in the languages heartlands in order to preserve community use of the language.
Commenting the Mid & West Wales Senedd Member said: “These statistics will be a great disappointment to all of us who care about a thriving future of the Welsh language and a truly bilingual Wales.
“Although there is a multitude of factors behind the decrease, one thing is clear the depopulation of traditional rural heartlands of the language like Ceredigion, Ynys Môn, Carmarthenshire and Gwynedd must be halted if we are to ensure that usage of the language continues in everyday usage.”