Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee

 

Date:              8 November 2017

Time:             11:15-12:15

Title:               Evidence paper to inform scrutiny of Draft Budget 2018-19 from the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee

 

Purpose

1.    To provide information on the Draft Budget 2018-19 in relation to the Welsh language as requested by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.

 

Timing

2.     The draft budget was published as part of a two stage process; publishing an outline budget (stage 1) on 3 October followed by a detailed budget (stage 2) on 24 October.

    

Background 

3.    In July 2017 the Welsh Government launched a new Welsh language strategy – Cymraeg 2050: a million Welsh speakers

 

4.    Cymraeg 2050 includes steps to increase language acquisition through the education system and to promote language use. As such the policy areas contained in the previous Welsh-language strategy: A living language: a language for living (and the policy statement A living language: a language for living – Moving Forward), as well as the Welsh-medium Education Strategy, have now been brought together in one document. The new strategy’s overarching aims are:

 

5.    Cymraeg 2050: Work Programme 2017-21was also published with the strategy. This details what we as a Government will focus on during the first four years of implementation in order to lay solid foundations to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

 

Response

 

6.    The following information is provided in the order requested in the commissioning letter dated 1 September 2017 under the following headings:

·         Part 1: Commentary on Actions and detail of Budget Expenditure Line (BEL) allocations 

·         Part 2: Other information

·         Part 3: Specific areas

 

Part 1: Commentary on Actions and detail of Budget Expenditure Line (BEL) allocations

 

7.    The table below provides a summary of the actions relating to Welsh language funding in support of the Cymraeg 2050 strategy:

 

 

Budget

2017-18 Baseline

£000

2018-19

Draft Budget

£000

2019-20

Draft Budget

£000

Action: Welsh in Education

 

BEL 5164

Welsh in Education

29,231*

31,361**

31,361**

Action: Welsh Language

 

BEL 6020

Welsh Language

3,964

3,913

3,913

BEL 6021

Welsh Language Commissioner

3,000

3,051

3,051

 

Total

36,195

38,325

38,325

*Includes additional £5m of funding for the Welsh language as part of budget agreement with Plaid Cymru

**Includes additional £5m of funding for the Welsh Language, £0.5m for improved provision of bilingual education resources, and £1m for Mudiad Meithrin as part of budget agreement with Plaid Cymru

 

8.    Austerity continues to be a defining feature of public expenditure. This long period of sustained reductions has had an impact on all services, even those where we have been able to provide some protection. It means that as Welsh Government and as a National Assembly for Wales we continue to face tough choices.

 

9.    However despite clear financial challenges, our commitment to the Welsh language remains as strong as ever, as evidenced by the challenging target we have set ourselves in Cymraeg 2050. In increasingly difficult and uncertain financial times, we have managed to increase funding in support of the Welsh language when compared with 2016-17 levels. This will ensure steady investment to lay the foundations required as we work to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

 

Indicative 2019-20 MEG allocations

 

10. The purpose of the three BELs in the table above is to support the new Cymraeg 2050: a million Welsh speakers Strategy and Work Programme. A breakdown of each one is provided below.

 

11. The ‘Welsh Education Strategy’ BEL (5164) supports actions related to Welsh-medium and Welsh language education within Cymraeg 2050, which includes:

 

·                the planning of Welsh-medium education to include implementing recommendations made within Aled Roberts Rapid Review of the WESPs;

·                the delivery of practitioner training through the Sabbatical Scheme;

·                the delivery of Welsh-language training through the National Centre for Learning Welsh;

·                commissioning of teaching and learning resources;

·                promoting language transmission in families; 

·                research, evaluation and marketing in respect of the Welsh-medium education elements of the strategy;

·                delivery of the Welsh Language Charter programme;  

·                funding for the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

 

12. The indicative allocation for the ‘Welsh Education Strategy’ BEL (5164) in 2018-19 and 2019-20 proposes an increase in budget of £2.130m.

 

Reductions:

 

·                As part of the review to meet reduced budgets, a £300k reduction was identified through reducing funding for several projects across both the Welsh Education Strategy BEL and Welsh Language BEL, through savings as a result of a combination of projects coming to an end and the reprioritisation of funds.  

 

Increases:

 

·                £330k transfer in from HEFCW relating to the Welsh Medium Scholarships Scheme

·                £1.5m allocation from reserves which includes an additional £500k for improved provision of bilingual education resources, and £1m for the expansion of Mudiad Meithrin as part of the draft budget agreement with Plaid Cymru. This is in addition to the £5m of Welsh Language funding which is included recurrently in the baseline

·                £600k transfer in relating to Mudiad Meithrin (£300k from the Communities and Childrens MEG and £300k from Foundation Phase BEL (5501). This additional funding will support staff training and development for the early years.

 

13. The purpose of BEL 6020 is to support the aims of the Welsh Government’s new Welsh Language Strategy – Cymraeg 2050 in relation to increasing the use of Welsh and supporting infrastructure (information about the new strategy can be found at paras 3-5 above).  

 

14. The indicative allocation for BEL 6020 in 2018-19 and 2019-20 shows abudget reduction of £51k. This updated figure reflects a previous in-year transfer of £51k from the Welsh Language BEL to BEL 6021, which funds the Welsh Language Commissioner, to ensure that the whole of the Commissioner’s budget allocation resides in one BEL. As this was an administrative internal transfer, the budget available for the Welsh Language promotion elements of the strategy have remained consistent with the previous financial year.

 

15. The purpose of BEL 6021 is to fund the position of the Welsh Language Commissioner. The Commissioner has wide ranging functions and powers which include:

·         working towards ensuring that the Welsh language is treated no less favourably than the English language;

·         imposing duties on persons who come within the scope of the Measure to comply with standards relating to the Welsh language;

·         conducting inquiries into matters relating to the Commissioner's functions;

·         investigating alleged interference with an individual’s freedom to communicate in Welsh with another individual;

·         promoting and facilitating the use of the Welsh language especially within the 3rd and private sectors.

 

16.The indicative allocation for BEL 6021 in 2018-19 and 2019-20 proposes a budget increase of £51k. As noted in paragraph 14 above, this updated figure reflects a previous in-year transfer of £51k from the Welsh Language BEL to BEL 6021, which funds the Welsh Language Commissioner. The Welsh Language Commissioner’s funding has therefore not increased as a result of this adjustment.

 

17.The Cabinet Secretary for Education has also provided information to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee on the budget provision to support the implementation of the Welsh-medium element of the Cymraeg 2050 strategy.

 

Final out-turns for 2016-17 and forecast out-turns for 2017-18

 

18. Annex 1 outlines the final outturns for 2016-17 and forecast outturns for 2017-18 along with indicative allocations for 2019-20.

 

Part 2: Other information

 

19.Concerning ensuring value for money, clarity over how we use our resources effectively is central to delivering the priorities set out in Taking Wales Forward and Prosperity for All.  My priorities are clear:

·         Increasing the number of Welsh speakers to 1 million by 2050

·         Increasing the percentage of the population who use Welsh daily from 10% to 20% by 2050

·         Creating favourable conditions through improving infrastructure and creating the context to allow the language to flourish

 

20.Once expenditure is planned in line with my priorities, I have well-established processes in place to ensure that resources are used effectively for the purposes intended. 

 

21.In consulting upon the draft version of Cymraeg 2050 (new policy proposals were consulted upon for 12 weeks between 1 August and 31 October 2016), we asked members of the public and stakeholders what we should prioritise during the first stage of the new strategy. We used the responses to draft the Cymraeg 2050 Work Programme for 2017-21, which details the steps we will prioritise during this first phase of the strategy in order to lay all-important foundations towards a million speakers.

 

22.An evaluation of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy was published in March 2016. This included an overall evaluation of the strategy, along with individual evaluations of some of the programmes, including the Sabbatical Scheme, the resource commissioning programme and projects to support the teaching and learning of Welsh second language. The findings and recommendations of this evaluation continues to feed into policy developments.

 

23. An independent review of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol published in July 2017 considered value for money in regards to the funding of the Coleg as part of its remit. A full response to the report and recommendations will be published in the near future.

 

24.In 2017-18, £200k has been allocated as part of BEL 5511 (Raising School Standards) to support a programme of research and evaluation to inform the development of Welsh-medium and Welsh language education. This will include a further evaluation of the Sabbatical Scheme, evaluation of the Welsh Language Charter and research to inform best practice in the teaching and learning of Welsh.

 

25.In measuring the delivery of Cymraeg 2050, we will, of course, measure our progress against our target of a million Welsh speakers. For this administration, progress in delivering the short term targets outlined in the Work Programme for 2017-21 will be a measure of progress towards achieving the aims of Cymraeg 2050.

                                                                                                                

26.Regarding preventative spend, our target of increasing Welsh language early years provision by 40 nursery groups by 2021 has the aim of creating bilingual citizens of the future. Cylchoedd Meithrin contribute to nurturing the conditions which create new Welsh speakers by immersing children in the language and its culture, and by helping to feed Welsh-medium schools. This spend on the early years prepares the ground for further interventions in the shape of, for instance, the Siarter Iaith (which has the aim of establishing Welsh-language use among school children from an early age), and has the potential to reduce spend on promotion among older age groups, as their language practices will already have taken root.

 

27.It’s important to note here that all Cabinet Secretaries are committed to using the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act to improve how we make decisions about the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Our goal is to ensure we reflect the sustainable development principle and our spending plans aim to achieve a balance between short and long-term priorities.

 

28.Information on allocations (and their location) in my portfolio to provide for legislation which has the potential to impact in the financial year 2018-19 is addressed in paragraphs 40-43 below.

 

29.Concerning the UK exit from the EU, the Welsh Government established a specific team to co-ordinate European Transition issues, which is working closely with the existing team in Brussels and policy departments.  As the impact of Brexit is so far-reaching many Welsh Government departments are also prioritising their existing resources for dealing with Brexit specific issues. Reprioritising existing resources is an important and responsible approach and one which will need to be utilised further as more information about future changes becomes available.

 

Part 3: Specific areas

 

Updates on allocations in 2017-18 budget

 

30.In relation to the £3m of additional funding allocated to the National Centre for Learning Welsh in the 2017-18 Welsh in Education BEL, this has been used to deliver the ‘Work Welsh’ programme of support and training aimed specifically at increasing the use of Welsh in the workplace. 

 

31.Information sessions and support have been delivered to a wide range of employers in both the public and private sector. These have provided advice to employers on how to develop an effective Welsh-language workforce development programme and identifying and analysing Welsh-language training needs.

 

32.A suite of courses are being offered as part of the programme. These include an online courses for beginners, as well a range of intensive and residential courses at various levels. 

 

33.A specific strand of the programme is targeted at the early years sector. The National Centre for Learning Welsh is working closely with Cwlwm – the consortium of early years organisations – to undertake an analysis of practitioners’ Welsh language skills across the early years sector. The Centre is also developing a programme of Welsh-language training courses tailored to the needs of the sector.

 

34.The programme also includes pilot programmes to develop Further Education and Higher Education practitioners’ Welsh-language skills.

 

35.As a result of the budget agreement with Plaid Cymru, an additional £5m of investment was available for the Welsh language during 2017-18, and this was included in the Welsh in Education BEL.  

 

36.Having allocated £3m of the £5m allocation in the 2017-18 Welsh in Education BEL for the National Centre for Learning Welsh, the remaining £2m was used for the purpose of promoting the Welsh language, as per the 2017-18 agreement with Plaid Cymru.

 

37.This included £400k to help small and medium sized enterprises to become more bilingual. The aim of the project is to ensure that practical support is available to SMEs and microbusinesses (under 10 employees) to help them increase their use of the Welsh Language. The Welsh Language Commissioner currently provides some support to larger businesses – however, there are currently over 90,000 SMEs in Wales that do not have access to support or assistance to guide them on using more Welsh language.

 

38.In the new year, I will also be launching a national Cymraeg “helpline” as a first port of call for anyone interested in the Welsh language.  It will provide short translations and signposting to available help free of charge for businesses and third sector organisations to assist them to make the Welsh language more visible (eg, on their social media, menus, advertising). We hope that this service will be an incentive to connect businesses with the practitioners and vice versa that will be able to further assist them on creating bilingual plans for their workplace.

 

39.The remainder of the additional funding for 2017-2018 is being used to enhance and strengthen the promotion function already undertaken by the Welsh Government. This includes two new posts requiring Welsh language marketing expertise as well as a third senior policy post to deliver the enhanced work programme. In line with priorities of the Cymraeg 2050 strategy the additional funding will also fund the following projects:

 

·         A new grant scheme in support of Theme 2 of the strategy - Increasing the use of Welsh.

·         Manage and deliver national marketing campaigns and/or interventions that encourage the use of Welsh to priority target audiences (eg, young people 14-21).

 

White paper – Striking the right balance: proposals for a Welsh Language Bill

 

40.Concerning the implications for the 2018-19 Welsh language budget of bringing forward legislation in relation to the Welsh language, at the current stage of development it is envisaged that implementation of the Welsh Language Bill is affordable within the Welsh Language BEL.  However, while the overall cost is not anticipated to exceed the BEL planning assumptions, the split between what is allocated to the Commissioner and the promotional activities within the BEL are likely to be different.  The proportion of the funding split post-Bill cannot be identified at this stage as it is dependent on policy choices yet to be made by Ministers. 

 

41.The policy proposals contained in the White Paper to bring some of the functions of the Commissioner into government is likely to require additional ongoing legal support from Legal Services.The need for additional resource will need to be considered, including through prioritisation of work streams.  These considerations will need to be addressed once policy is settled. 

 

42.Should Ministers wish to pursue an option which involves the Ombudsman investigating complaints about Welsh language standards, the cost implications would also need to address the impact of the Ombudsman being funded directly from the Welsh Consolidated Fund rather than from the Welsh Language BEL.

 

43.Officials are undertaking a review of the current information available, and are seeking to identify whether further research needs to be commissioned to ensure a robust baseline is available to inform the costs and benefits that will be required to be set out in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).

 

Cymraeg 2050

 

44. The Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs) provide a basis for the planning of Welsh-medium education across Wales.  Critically this also includes bilingual and Welsh language education. All 22 local authorities submitted their WESPs for approval in December 2016. However, following a statement I made in the National Assembly on 14 March 2017 Aled Roberts was asked to carry out a rapid review of the current regime for planning Welsh language education across Wales. A budget of £50k was allocated from BEL 5164 in 2017-18 to undertake this review. The final report includes recommendations on how to develop the WESPs as well as offering recommendations on individual plans drafted by local authorities for the period 2017-2020.

 

45. Local authorities use funding from a number of sources to implement their WESPs including activities supported and delivered through the Education Improvement Grant (EIG). In the delivery of their EIG, the regional consortia Local authorities are asked to ensure that the programme of activities funded reflect the priorities set out in the local authorities’ WESPs.

 

46.The Welsh in Education BEL also supports the WESPs through programmes to support the promotion of informal use of the language and the development of the language skills of practitioners through the Sabbatical Scheme. The promotion and marketing activity through Cymraeg i Blant / Welsh for Kids, although difficult to quantify, also supports the implementation of the plans.

 

47.In respect of funding associated with expanding Welsh-medium early years provision and the policy aim of increasing the number of early years provision by 40 nursery groups by 2021, £2.031m has been awarded to Mudiad Meithrin in 2017-18 to support and develop Welsh-medium early years provision. This funding delivers a wide-ranging programme of work which supports local authorities to develop their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, provides support targeted at disadvantaged areas and hard to reach groups, strengthen existing provision as well as supporting the establishment of new settings. It also includes work aimed at developing the workforce, including routes for practitioners working in Mudiad Meithrin’s settings to gain a Level 3 Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development, as well as training on specialist skills such as language and immersion techniques.

 

48.Work has already started on planning where provision needs to be expanded in line with Cymraeg 2050’s aim to establish an additional 40 Welsh-medium nursery groups by 2021. This will include mapping existing provision and data on current capacity with information provided in local authority Welsh in Education Strategic Plans and Childcare Sufficiency Assessments. It is envisaged that the additional £1m allocated to Mudiad Meithrin in the draft budget for 2018-19 will play a vital part in facilitating the changes needed to achieve this aim.

 

49.Turning to the expanding of workplace training to help develop the Welsh language skills of teachers in pre-16 and post-16 sector, and expansion of the sabbatical scheme, as part of BEL 5164, £1.550m is allocated annually to fund the national sabbatical scheme, which provides intensive Welsh language training for practitioners.

 

50. In addition, as noted in the Cabinet Secretary for Education’s evidence paper, as part of the Raising School Standards BEL 5511, the Welsh Government is investing an extra £4.205m in 2017-18 to support the teaching and learning of Welsh and subjects through the medium of Welsh.

 

51.This funding is set to increase by £680k in 2018-19 and a further £265k in 2019-20, subject to final budget and approval, to prepare the workforce to deliver the new Welsh language curriculum and to increase the capacity of the Welsh-medium teaching workforce.

 

52.In order to increase the number of primary and secondary teachers teaching through the medium of Welsh, and increasing the number of secondary teachers teaching Welsh as a subject, Cymraeg 2050 includes targets to increase number of Welsh-medium teachers in the secondary sector from 1,800 to 2,200 by 2021.

 

53.Initial Teacher Education (ITE) is not the only source for increasing the pool of teachers. Officials are considering all avenues for increasing the number of primary and secondary teachers through ITE and Graduate Teacher Placements. Officials are also reviewing incentive schemes and are modelling the cost of an incentive to study ITE through the medium of Welsh. Through the Discover Teaching campaign, we will also work with Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to promote teaching through the medium of Welsh with undergraduates, with a view to increasing the intake for future years. Budgets are yet to be finalised.

 

54.Concerning the development of Welsh language provision through the new Childcare Offer, the Pilot phase of the Offer began in designated areas across 7 Early Implementer Local Authorities in September 2017.

 

55.Further data is required in order to fully understand the expected demand for Welsh-medium provision through the Offer.  As a result, it is difficult to anticipate the impact of the Offer at this time.

 

56.Data collected from local authorities, as well as an evaluation undertaken during the pilot phase, will provide evidence on the demand and take up of Welsh medium and bilingual childcare provision within the offer. The final evaluation report is due to be published in October 2018.

 

57.Whilst the Welsh language budget does not directly fund any part of the delivery of the Childcare Offer, we will need to be aware of the findings of this evaluation and trends within the data and try to see whether programmes, including Mudiad Meithrin’s grant programme, can respond to them.

 

Welsh Language Commissioner

 

58.The Commissioner currently receives £3.051m from Welsh Government. This is £51k higher than 2017-18 but is merely an administrative internal transfer to ensure that all of the Commissioner’s budget comes from the same BEL.

 

59.I received the Commissioner’s Estimate for the financial year 2018-19 on 3 October. In that document, the Commissioner clearly sets out her budgetary needs for 2018-19 and notes the impact no increase will have on her activities and on her reserves. That document will be given consideration as priorities within the MEG continue to be managed following budget approval. 

 

Patagonia

 

60.In respect of the Welsh Government’s grant to the international education programme, and future funding arrangements, the Welsh Language Project (WLP) was established in 1997, and in 2012 became one strand of the International Education Project (IEP) funded by the Welsh Government and managed by the British Council. It aims to enable both children and adults in Patagonia to develop their Welsh-language skills, as well as support links between Patagonia and Wales.

 

61.The WLP consists of three parts:

·         Placements for teachers/tutors from Wales in Patagonia;

·         Supporting a network of local Welsh tutors;  

·         Project coordinator.

 

62. The project currently receives £55k funding from the Welsh Government via the IEP, £15k from British Council Wales and £4k from the Wales-Argentina Society. The Welsh Government’s draft budget proposals for 2018-19 includes plans to continue funding the IEP at current levels, including the WLP, subject to agreement of the draft budget and negotiations with delivery partners.

 

 

 

 

Media and broadcasting

 

63.The Welsh Government’s commitments in terms of broadcasting involve staff resource (funded from the Welsh Government Central Services and Administration Main Expenditure Group budget) as opposed to programme funding.

 

64.The Welsh Government’s funding channelled through the Welsh Books Council, which is in the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure’s portfolio,  includes funding for Golwg 360, the Welsh-language daily on-line news service and support for Welsh-medium news and current affairs publications Golwg and Barn. The funding to the Books Council also supports English-language magazines which cover several areas including current affairs/culture.

 

65.The Welsh Government will be establishing a new independent media forum, to advise on the future of the media and broadcasting in Wales. During the autumn the Welsh Government will advertise publicly for the Forum’s Chair.  Following the appointment of the Chair, and with the Chair’s involvement, other members of the Forum will be then recruited. The intention then is that the Forum will begin its work as soon as possible. At this stage there are no plans for members of this Forum to be remunerated, although they should be able to claim reasonable travel, subsistence and childcare costs on the same basis as other advisory panels. This will have a budgetary impact but it cannot quantified as yet, because the final size of the Forum’s membership has yet to be agreed.

 



Annex 1

 

Specific Allocations within BELs

 

BEL

Specific Allocations

2016-17

Final Outturn

£000’s

2017-18

Forecast Outturn

£000’s

2018-19
Draft Budget Allocation
£000’s

2019-20
Draft Budget Indicative
£000’s

Welsh Education Strategy

(BEL 5164)

Welsh Education Strategy / Welsh education element

of Cymraeg 2050 strategy

17,760

29,831

31,361

31,361

Welsh Language

(BEL 6020)  

 

Increasing the use of Welsh and supporting infrastructure

 

4,778

 

3,913

 

 

3,913

 

 

3,913

 

Welsh Language Commissioner

(BEL 6021)

Funding the position of the Welsh Language

Commissioner

3,065

3,051  

3,051  

3,051

Total

 

25,603

36,795

38,325

38,325