Wales politics

Further £1m for Welsh language centres announced

Musicians Mei Gwynedd and Gwenan Gibbard at the 2014 National Eisteddfod
Image caption The new centres aim to boost the use of Welsh outside of events such as the National Eisteddfod

A further £1m to open new centres to encourage more people to learn and use the Welsh language has been announced by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

He also defended his role as Welsh language minister, after a suggestion the job should go to someone else.

The funding for the language centres next year follows the £1.25m already announced for 2014-15.

Councils, colleges and universities can bid to use the cash to encourage Welsh use at "grassroots level".

It is the latest in a series of measures aimed at supporting the Welsh language, and comes after the 2011 Census showed a decline in the number of Welsh speakers in some of its strongholds in mid and west Wales.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Successful bids for this year's funding will be announced shortly, but as the response has been so good, I'm pleased to announce this further £1 million today.

"I've always said the key to encouraging use of the Welsh language is for people to be able to use it socially at grassroots, community level."

"This significant boost in capital funding will go a long way in providing the buildings and centres for this to happen, helping us meet our commitments in 'Moving Forward', our vision for promoting use of the language in Wales," Mr Jones added.

Image caption Meri Huws said it might be better to have a minister with fewer responsibilities dealing with the language

Last week, Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws said that having the first minister responsible for the Welsh language gave it "status" but she added that "maybe, there's a chance now to have someone dedicated to the Welsh language with fewer responsibilities from day-to-day".

But on Tuesday, in an interview with BBC Wales, Mr Jones insisted he was the right person to shoulder responsibility for Welsh language policy in the Welsh government.

"As someone who has always spoken Welsh, someone who comes from a Welsh background, I think it's important to have someone from that background at the moment looking after the language," he said.

He also responded to concern about funding cuts at the commissioner's office, where the budget fell 10% this year, with another 8% cut planned by the Welsh government next year.

Money was short, Mr Jones said, following cuts to spending in Westminster "so it isn't possible to keep money exactly where it was".

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