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Council reacts to Welsh language census figures

THE NUMBER of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire, and Wales as a whole, has declined since 2011 according to the results of the 2021 census.

The latest Census data for 2021 indicates that an estimated 538,300 people (aged 3+) in Wales are able to speak Welsh, this translates to 17.8% of the population. This is a decrease of approximately 23,700 people or 1.2 percentage points ,3 since the 2011 Census.

For Carmarthenshire, the data for 2021 indicates that the county is home to 72,838 Welsh speakers or 39.9% of the total population (aged 3+). This figure has decreased by 5,210 or 4.0% since the last Census in 2011.

Regrettably, this is the largest percentage point decrease of all local authorities in Wales.

In 2001 and 2011, Carmarthenshire had the highest number of Welsh speakers of all local authorities in Wales, with 84,196 and 78,048 Welsh speakers respectively. These new figures mean that the county now has the second-highest number of Welsh speakers of all local authorities in Wales.

Carmarthenshire remains the fourth highest in terms of the percentage of the population that are able to speak Welsh.

Age Group

In Carmarthenshire, the number of those aged 3-15 and able to speak Welsh has decreased by 510 people or 2.6%. Decreases have also been visible within the 16-64 and 65+ age categories, although at more significant levels than the younger age group. To expand, the decline in those aged over 65 and able to speak Welsh translates to a decrease of 8.7%.

All local authorities in Wales saw a decrease in the percentage of children, aged 3 to 15, reported as being able to speak Welsh between 2011 and 2021. At a national level, it is thought that the decrease in both the number and percentage of people, aged three years or older, able to speak Welsh is mainly driven by a fall among children and young people who reported as being able to speak Welsh.

Welsh Language Skills


74,355 people living in Carmarthenshire reported that they have no skills in Welsh during the 2011 Census. This level has increased over the last ten years to 85,287, or 4.8%.

The number of people able to speak, read and write Welsh in the county has decreased by 1.9% or 1,828 people. This is a considerably lower decrease than the figures for those only able to speak Welsh.

Cllr. Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language said: “There is no getting away from the fact that the decline in the number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire is alarming and a cause of great concern.

“There are many factors that could explain this decline. We will work with the Welsh Government and partners through the County’s Welsh Language Strategic Forum to analyse these latest census results to ensure that we fully understand the contributing factors and respond to these disappointing findings.”

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