The report presents the findings, discusses how they should be interpreted and explores why the results differ from the Census.

The Census of Population is the key source used to measure the number of Welsh speakers in Wales. However, as the Annual Poplulation Survey (APS) provides quarterly results, it is useful to use the APS to look at trends in the Welsh language between censuses. Historically a far greater number of people are recorded as speaking Welsh in the APS than in the Census.

The APS results should not be compared against Census results nor used to measure progress towards our target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050. The Welsh language strategy Cymraeg 2050, clearly states that this target was based on census data and that progress towards this target will be monitored using future census data.

A blog published by the Chief Statistician recently, gave a brief discussion on how to interpret the Welsh language data in the APS. More information about the differences between the APS and the Census can be found in a bulletin presenting more detailed results on the Welsh language from the APS from 2001 to 2018.

The chart below shows the number of people aged 3 or over who report being able to speak Welsh according to the Annual Population Survey from 2001 to March 2019.

The chart shows the results of the APS from 2001 to the end of March 2019. In 2001 there were 834,500 Welsh speakers. The trend declines to 2007 and then increases again to 896,900 by the end of March 2019. The Census results for 2001 and 2011 are also plotted on the same for chart, to illustrate that the Census estimates for the number of welsh speakers are considerably lower - over 200,000  lower.

Key results

  • For the year ending 31 March 2019 the Annual Population Survey reported that 29.8% of people aged three and over were able to speak Welsh. This figure equates to 896,900 people
  • This is 0.8 percentage points higher than the same quarter in the previous year (year ending 31 March 2018), equating to 28,000 more people.
  • The chart above shows how these figures have been gradually increasing each year since March 2010 (25.2%, 731,000), after they had been gradually declining from 2001 to 2007. The latest results bring the percentage of Welsh speakers back in line with the levels reported by the APS in 2001 (when 30.0%, or 833,400 people were reported to be able to speak Welsh).
  • The highest numbers of Welsh speakers continue to be found in Carmarthenshire (95,400) and Gwynedd (91,000). The lowest numbers of Welsh speakers are in Merthyr Tydfil (10,500) and Blaenau Gwent (13,200).
  • The highest percentages of Welsh speakers can be found in Gwynedd (76%) and the Isle of Anglesey (67%). The lowest percentages of Welsh speakers are in Bridgend (16%) and Monmouthshire (18%).
  • 16.7% (495,000) of people aged three and over reported that they spoke Welsh daily, 5.0% (154,600) weekly and 6.5% (198,000) less often. 1.6% (49,200) reported that they never spoke Welsh despite being able to speak it, with the remaining 70.2% not able to speak Welsh.
  • 34% (1,037,100) reported that they could understand spoken Welsh, 27% (804,800) could read and 24%(733,600) could write Welsh.

Note

The Census results and APS results for 2001 and 2011 have also been plotted on the chart above to indicate the large discrepancy between the two sources at the same time periods. There are a number of possible explanations for why Census results would be lower than survey results. For example, the Census is a statutory self-completion questionnaire, the APS is voluntary survey, which uses face-to-face interviews.

Details about how the survey is developed and carried out can be found on the Office for National Statistics website.

Data

Datasets and interactive tools

Contact

Lisa Walters

Tel: 0300 025 6682

Media

Tel: 0300 025 8099