Proposals for the 2011 Census were published in the White Paper ‘Helping to shape tomorrow’ in December 2008. These proposals included introducing two new questions on language. In Wales, the Census continued to collect information on the number of people who can understand, speak, read and write Welsh, in order to inform policy development and for monitoring purposes.
The proposed questions were drawn up following an extensive three year process of consultation with a wide variety of census data users.
The first of the new language questions collected information on main language. The second question collected information on English proficiency, but only for those whose main language is not English (or Welsh/English in Wales).
The purpose of the two new language questions is to help service providers understand the language support facilities they need to provide. For those unable to speak English (or Welsh in Wales), the Census will provide information on the main language spoken. This will help identify which languages need to be considered when service providers print documents or provide telephone enquiry lines.
The language questions together with questions on national identity, ethnicity and religion will provide rich information that will allow local and national services to be planned and monitored effectively.