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Written Statement - Programme to promote the use of the Welsh language

Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language

I wish to inform members how the Welsh Government will invest £2m over the course of 2017-18 to support a national programme to promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language. This forms part of our additional £5m which we have invested in the Welsh language for 2017-18 to help us work towards our vision of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Promoting and facilitating the use of the Welsh language are key elements to our efforts to realise our vision. I am keen that we, as a government, give more attention to promoting and facilitating the use of Welsh across our communities and workplaces, both in formal and informal settings.

As part of our new programme, we will focus on:

  • Establishing a contact point which will help both individuals and bodies to access relevant information on the Welsh language, including short translations for small businesses and others.
  • Creating and expanding national promotion campaigns to encourage the use of Welsh in specific areas such as the private sector, working with parents to encourage them to send their children to Welsh-medium schools, encouraging people to access services in Welsh, and promoting the use of Welsh amongst young people, especially in the workplace and sports.
  • Coordinating and commissioning practical support to facilitate the use of the Welsh language amongst small businesses
  • Increase cooperation between staff who work in the language planning field in order to strengthen networks and share expertise
I will establish a task and finish group to advise us on the work of the programme to support the use of the Welsh language. I am happy to announce that Rhian Huws Williams will chair the group. Rhian has significant experience of promoting the importance of using the Welsh language – recently, she chaired a group that developed our Welsh language strategy in the health sector – More than Just Words, on behalf of the Health Minister, and I’m confident that her support, and that of the other members of the group, will be invaluable to us in moving the agenda forward. I will announce the names of the other members of the group in the coming weeks.

One of the themes which was raised during our consultation on a new strategy for the Welsh language was the need for increased awareness amongst individuals concerning who to turn to for advice and guidance in terms of how to promote the use of the Welsh language. This is a matter the white paper on amending the Welsh Language Measure will consider when it is published in the summer. We will give further consideration to the most appropriate structures for the future in order to create an appropriate balance in the relationship between promoting and facilitating on the one hand, and regulation on the other.

This investment is an opportunity for us to enhance the work which is already ongoing, and to enable us to experiment and innovate with new methods. The work will be led and delivered by the government in cooperation with our partners, and we will work closely with the Welsh Language Commissioner to deliver the project’s priorities.

I would also like to note that the work of drafting our long term strategy to realise our vision is ongoing and our intention is to publish it in the summer. In the meantime, our current strategy: A living language: a language for living and the current action plan will continue to be operational.