Brexit blamed as timetable for introducing Welsh standards to housing associations slips

(Title Image: Fish4Jobs)

Here’s another summary; this afternoon’s International Affairs, Welsh Language & Culture questions.

Welsh in the housing sector: “A sensitive subject”

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) said that Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd housing association used a recruitment agency in Leamington Spa to fill two senior roles without placing a Welsh language requirement as a key skill. This was despite the organisation having a policy for internal use of Welsh. That was in 2014. In 2019:

“Now, it’s become apparent that this body once again is recruiting senior officials – with the assistance of an agency from Birmingham this time. And the post of deputy chief executive, with a salary of £105,000, has been advertised, without any requirement in terms of the ability to communicate through the medium of Welsh – only an ‘understanding’ of Welsh and the culture of north Wales is required, whatever that means.”
– Sian Gwenllian AM

International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales) described it as a “sensitive subject” but there should at least be a commitment to learn Welsh by anyone filling the post – something Sian said the job advert didn’t even mention.

The Minister blamed Brexit for not bringing forward language standards for housing associations – an excuse Sian suggested the Minister was using too often, adding that, if anything, Brexit should mean introducing the standards sooner.

Consulting children on Cymraeg 2050

Shadow Education Minister, Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West) said a key plank of the Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 programme was an evaluation of the Welsh for pre-school children programme (Cymraeg i Blant). She asked a number of questions on how this would be achieved.

“I accept the fact that very young children can’t contribute much to this process, but, of course, they have parents too who will have their own ideas. And you haven’t answered the question either on how some councils are starting to rely on external groups to help them, as they would put it, with their internal duties and responsibilities. Because it appears to me that too many of them are doing that rather than trying to generate more capacity within the councils themselves, within their workforce, in relation to the Welsh language.”
– Shadow Education Minister, Suzy Davies AM

The Minister said there was broad agreement that pre-school age children should be a priority as it was a key way of getting them into full-time Welsh-medium education (and subsequently boosting the number of Welsh-speakers). It was important for public bodies to improve their capacity for use of Welsh and there were a number of examples of good practice – citing North Wales Police. It was important for councils to learn from each other though.

Wales for Africa “needs more clarity on who does what”

John Griffiths AM (Lab, Newport East) asked about the Wales for Africa programme. It was important for developing community-to-community links and there were a large number of them now in Wales. Could the programme be expanded?

Nick Ramsay AM (Con, Monmouth) – who has links to the Love Zimbabwe charity – said links between Wales and Africa could form part of the 20th anniversary of devolution celebrations next month. Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) mentioned a proposal from the Wales for Africa Health Network for Wales to “adopt” 3 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and provide universal healthcare for them through existing networks.

The Minister is undertaking a review of the Wales for Africa programme:

“One of the things that we need to do is to just have much greater clarity on who is doing what, where, so I’ve already commissioned a piece of work to see how we map that, so that we’re all aware of what’s going on before we start. You’re absolutely right: resources are always going to be an issue here, but what’s clear is, with the very small resources we are giving to this, they are having a major impact. But we can also be creative in some of the other ways that we help.”
– Minister for International Affairs & Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan

The Minister added that including Wales’ African links in the devolution celebrations “was an excellent idea” and improving health links with Africa has already been discussed with the Deputy Health Minister….financial constraints depending.

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