Dathlu’r Gymraeg, an umbrella group of Welsh language organisations, is calling on the Government to reconsider the budget cuts planned for the Welsh Language. The draft budget shows a significant drop in funding for the work of the Government in promoting the Welsh language in the community and for the Welsh Language Commissioner. It is proposed to reduce the budget from £ 8.6m to £ 6.9m. This is a proposed cut of 19% to the budget for projects to promote the language. To reduce the effect of such a cut the Government is proposing to set aside £1.2m from other budgets but this will not be sufficient to maintain the current funding.
Dathlu’r Gymraeg stated that the draft budget cuts strengthens the case for adopting a long-term target for investment in Welsh. In its manifesto for the Assembly elections it asks the parties to plan to invest 1% of the Welsh budget in initiatives to promote the Welsh language, the same percentage as the Basque Country which saw steady growth in the number of Basque speakers over recent decades.
Penri Williams, Chairman of Dathlu’r Gymraeg, representing over twenty Welsh language organisations said:
“These cuts will underline the need for the Welsh Government to set out targets in the future for the percentage of the budget to be invested in the Welsh language. The target of 1% follows the international best practice and demonstrates a clear commitment to it. As a minority language, there is a need for security and stability over a fairly long period in order to plan and get results. We have seen precedents in other areas on a British level, such as international development, and how such a target can offer long-term stability. For example, it is difficult to see how the Welsh Language Commissioner could effectively act independently if the cuts continue.
“Of course, there is considerable concern regarding the ability of the government to fulfill their objectives in terms of the Welsh language, if such cuts occur. Indeed, it is difficult to see how the budget meets the Government’s commitment to ensure the growth of the Welsh language. “
Dathlu’r Gymraeg is calling on the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to ensure that the current expenditure on the Welsh language is maintained and ways are considered to expand the provision in the future.