Despite recent news that every Welsh Government department would receive an increase in funding from April 2020, campaigners have criticised the decision to reduce Welsh language funding.
It was announced on 16 December 2019 that all departments are receiving funding increases, with health spending up 4.8%, councils receiving an average of 4.3% more, and an extra 7% going to education, while spending on the economy and transport receives a massive hike of nearly 15%.
However, budgets for expenditure on the Welsh language specifically have dropped by almost £400,000, or 1.6%. This is money that goes to such organisations as the Urdd and the Eisteddfod, who promote and celebrate the language. In addition, Ministers intend to cut the budget for the Welsh language in Education by £1.65 million, or a cut of 15% in real terms in 2020.
The Government announced its educational funding priorities in its draft proposal:
Although the additional funding above is a good result, the real time reduction in the budget for Welsh language is puzzling to Welsh speakers, especially in light of the Government’s aim to produce a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
In response, Tamsin Davies from Gymdeithas yr Iaith, a Welsh language campaign group, said: “It appears that the Welsh language is not a priority for this Government, and that is disappointing (…)”.
In October 2019, it was reported that only 12 Welsh speaking teachers qualified, with the National Education Union warning “significant development” was needed to realise the ambition. Therefore, in order to meet its target, Gymdeithas yr Iaith, urges the Government to:
The Government has announced that intensive Welsh language training for teachers and teaching assistants is now being planned to ensure they can deliver the curriculum changes coming in from 2022. It is unclear though, with the radical overhaul in the curriculum, whether staff will have the capacity to learn a language to a teachable standard.
If the Government wants to reach its 2050 goal and reassure the public on its commitment to its national language, it is clear that ongoing significant funding will be needed in the coming years.