Agenda item

Welsh Language Monitoring Report



To provide a performance overview of our compliance and recording systems in relation to the Welsh Language Standards that were allocated in line with the requirements of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011.



Members are invited to conduct performance monitoring scrutiny, highlighting any areas of concern in relation to performance to the Cabinet Member. The report is a record of the Council’s activities over the last financial year in respect of compliance with its allocated Welsh Language Standards. The report will then be forwarded to the Welsh Language Commissioner’s Office by the 30th June 2019 for their scrutiny, a response and formal approval. It will also be posted on the council’s English and Welsh websites for public scrutiny.


Key issues:


1.  The Monitoring report details information recorded in relation to specific areas of the Welsh Language Standards allocated to this council. The Welsh Language Commissioner requests this information annually in order to be able measure our progress in terms of compliance with the Standards.


2. The report will be forwarded to the Welsh Language Commissioner’s Office by the 30th June 2018. Once the report has been read and analysed by the Commissioner the Council meets with the Commissioners’ Office to discuss any areas of good practice and any areas of concern that require improvement. It will also be posted on the council’s English and Welsh web sites to allow for public scrutiny.


3.  Fundamentally the Council is doing well in terms of compliance with these challenging standards. One continuing area of concern though is the low numbers of fluent Welsh speakers that are employed by the Council (31) potentially making us susceptible to challenge as a result of our inability to provide or proactively offer any kind of frontline services to the Welsh speaking members of the public of Monmouthshire. The Workforce Planning process that was developed and led by the Welsh Language and Equality Officer and Human Resources has been underway for at least 2 years. The process involves auditing the Welsh Language skills that exist in divisions, looking for any gaps and then designating posts as Welsh Essential when they become vacant. This process has worked well and posts have been designated as Welsh Essential. Unfortunately when some of these have been advertised there has been a lack of applicants but it is anticipated that the numbers of fluent Welsh speakers in the council will increase gradually but that will take some time to have the desired effect.


Member Scrutiny:

The Policy Officer Equalities and Welsh Language presented the report and questions were invited.


·         A Member commented that line managers are not always in a position to commit staff to attend or continue courses.  This point was agreed and is common across all authorities.  It was questioned if Learn Welsh courses are given equal priority to other training courses provided to staff.  The authority was requested to regard Welsh Language courses the same as other professional courses. The Officer is working with Coleg Gwent to improve numbers on courses by including members of the public to sustain numbers on the courses.  It was confirmed that volunteers take up courses for a variety of reasons and no one is required to do it.

·         It was also confirmed that the numbers of Welsh speakers recorded does not include school based staff and  that there are varying levels of fluency and confidence. Some staff members do not disclose their ability to speak the language.  It was suggested that HR should have a process to gather this information on appointment. 

·         The Chair asked if the information is gathered when staff are recruited.  It was thought that this information is gathered on a separate confidential form and that there may be an opportunity to ask new starters if they are willing to divulge this information.  A Member also suggested that managers could send out an e mail to ask their staff if they are Welsh speakers. The officer agreed to make further enquires with HR.  It was responded that there is no obligation for staff members to disclose Welsh Language skills as this is a protected characteristic. The Chair felt that the way the question is asked could influence a staff member’s likelihood of responding.

·         Text Box: Committee Conclusion: The Chair summarised the views of the Select Committee that 1) There are concerns about employees not getting support to attend courses from line managers; and 2) There is a need to gather better quality data on welsh speakers in the organisation. A Member asked if the change in the demographic in the county due to an influx of residents from Bristol has impacted on schools, and asked how this demand would be monitored.  It was responded that students in Wales have to learn Welsh as part of the curriculum.  Older pupils arriving from England may require extra assistance to reach the required standard.

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