You asked

As I understand it, in preparation for the 2021 Census and specific to the Welsh language, you have devoted substantial time and effort to consult Welsh Language pressure groups on the format/wording of Census Welsh language questions to be used in 2021.

Please disclose the following:

1. Full list of all Welsh language interested parties/stakeholders you have been in contact with i.e. Welsh Government/Welsh Language Commissioner etc.

2. Total time in man hours/weeks/months you have devoted to the Welsh language issues so far, in preparation for 2021 Census.

3. Details of all significant correspondence with parties listed in 2 above containing the format of questions to be used in 2021 Census.

4. Minutes of any meetings you’ve held with the Welsh language lobby/stakeholders.

Furthermore and again to my understanding a survey has been conducted using Welsh speakers to gauge their reaction to Welsh language questions, please disclose the following:

5. Who selected the Welsh speaking sample and who conducted the survey including the number of Welsh speakers consulted.

6. Full details of the survey result.

7. What’s the current status of the Welsh language questioning (C-2021) i.e. completed or still ongoing (If ongoing what are the objectives for the next stage).

In Wales, like in other parts of the UK there are other minority languages in regular use i.e. Polish/Portuguese/Italian/Asian languages etc – Please disclose the following:

8. How many minority languages interested parties (other than Welsh) you have been in contact with – Please list.

9. What amount of time you have devoted so far to other minority languages that will feature in Census 2021 – again please list/identify time scale devoted for each language.

We said

Thank you for your request. The scope of this request is very wide and we have concluded that to locate and identify all documents to fully respond to your request would breach the cost limit as defined by s.12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). For central government, the cost limit is £600 or 24 hours for one member of staff at £25 per hour; we have located documents from the date the request was submitted and worked backwards up to the 24 hours.

Question 1:

The list of all parties/stakeholders we have contacted interested in Welsh language are as follows;

  • All interested parties/respondents in the 2021 Census Topic Consultation are listed by name/organisation.

  • Assembly Commission

  • Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

  • Caerphilly County Borough Council

  • Cardiff Council

  • Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

  • Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg

  • Data Cymru

  • Gwynedd Council

  • Mentrau Iaith Cymru

  • Monmouthshire County Council

  • Mudiad Meithrin

  • Older People Wales

  • RHD Consultancy

  • Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council

  • S4C

  • Statiaith

  • Swansea Council

  • The Census Advisory Group Wales (ONS led advisory group). The organisations who are members of this group can be found in document 1 of the associated downloads.

  • The National Assembly for Wales

  • The Welsh Government

  • The Welsh Government’s Third Sector User Panel

  • The Welsh Government’s Welsh Statistical Liaison Committee

  • The Welsh Language Commissioner

  • Torfaen County Borough Council

Question 2:

You have asked for the total time in man hours/weeks/months spent on Welsh language issues so far in preparation for the 2021 census. It would be impossible for us to quantify the time spent on this, and so unfortunately, we do not hold the information necessary to answer this question.

Question 4:

In relation to your fourth question, please see the following and the documents found in the associated downloads;

Census Advisory Group Wales 01.12.16 – Document 21
Census Advisory Group Wales 14.06.17 – Document 31
Census Advisory Group Wales 24.01.18 – Document 41

  1. Census Advisory Group Wales minutes (these meetings have had some mention of Welsh language but they weren’t specifically about Welsh language nor was there an item on it in itself.

Wales Round Table Event 19.04.18 – Documents 5 & 6 – this was an event to explain how we are formulating recommendations for the Census 2021 questions.

ONS staff updated the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee at the National Assembly for Wales 18.04.18 after the committee’s call for evidence on the 2021 Census;

The paper ONS submitted is available from the National Assembly for Wales’ website;

Document 7 – Preparation emails for Welsh Assembly meeting

Document 8 – Scrutiny of preparations for the 2021 Census of Population, Welsh Government letter

Document 9 – Written evidence for Welsh Assembly Committee

Document 10 – Summary of meeting at Welsh Assembly

Document 11 – Event held between ONS, Welsh Government and other stakeholders on Welsh Language issues relating to the Census

Question 5:

You have also asked who selected the Welsh speaking sample, who conducted the survey, and the number of Welsh speakers consulted. Areas were chosen to reflect different types of Welsh speakers, of different ages and abilities. ONS have consulted with Welsh Government regarding the selection of areas for testing the main language question. Our cognitive and translation tests and the quantitative survey were conducted by research agencies and ONS staff. We assume you are making reference to the following surveys:

Qualitative cognitive testing - Summer 2017 - Sample selected by Welsh research agency (ORS) to include participants with a range of Welsh skills. Tested in Wales

Welsh translation testing - Summer/Autumn 2017 - Sample selected by Welsh research agency (ORS) to include only those who could speak, read and write Welsh. Tested in Wales

Qualitative cognitive testing - Winter 2017 - Opportunistic sampling conducted locally by ONS staff – no Welsh speakers sampled (as this was not the primary objective). Tested in England

Quantitative survey - Winter 2017 - Sample selected by research agency (IFF research) – no Welsh speakers intentionally sampled (as this was not the primary objective). Tested in England and Wales

Question 7:

The current status of the Welsh language questioning for Census 2021 is ongoing. We will make our recommendations to Government on the content of the 2021 Census for England and Wales through the publication of a White Paper laying out the Government's proposals later this year. The final topics and questions to be included in the 2021 will be put before Parliament for approval in the form of a Census Order and Census Regulations. The National Assembly for Wales will be consulted on the content of the Census Order, and will have separate Census Regulations for Wales for approval.

Question 8:

In relation to question 8, we have assumed that you are referring to just Wales. In Wales, like other parts of the UK there are other minority languages in regular use, for example Polish, Portuguese, Italian and Asian languages. We have not been in contact with parties interested in other minority languages, other than through the Topic Consultation where responses are available to view.

Question 9:

As in our response to your second question, we do not hold the information to answer question 9 as it is impossible for us to quantify how much time has been devoted to other minority languages that will feature in the 2021 Census.

Questions 3, 4 and 6:

In relation to questions 3, 4 and 6, we have withheld some documents under s.35(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) in order to protect the integrity of policy making, particularly in relation to live issues. Under s.35(1)(a), information held by a government department is exempt if the information relates to the formulation or development of government policy. We are currently working on making White Paper recommendations on the content for the 2021 Census to government; the information included relates to the formulation or development of government policy.

The use of s.35 is subject to consideration of the public interest test. Arguments in favour of disclosure are accountability and transparency. Arguments in favour of withholding the information maintaining a safe space for government officials to debate issues away from external scrutiny and consider all policy options in private. The census is a once in a decade opportunity to measure the population and use the findings to inform public policy. We are committed to being as open and transparent as possible regarding our decision making on the census, particularly through the publication of Topic Consultations; however, we would not do so if it were to cause detriment to the process. To release information regarding our recommendations before the publication of the White Paper and the regulations that follow would undermine the policy process and potentially undermine the undertaking of the census itself; both of which are arguably not in the public interest.

Some of the information has also been withheld from the documents as it is considered personal data; this is exempt from disclosure under s.40(2) of FOIA.

Although we are withholding information in relation to your third question, most of the topics we plan to recommend for inclusion in the 2021 Census were set out in the following document;

The 2021 Census – Assessment of initial user requirements on content for England and Wales: Response to consultation

We discussed the topics (including language) to be included in Census 2021 in the form of a consultation with members of the public, organisations and any other interested parties in the Topic Consultation.

Please note:

The 2021 Census Welsh language file was updated on 22 August 2018.

This file was updated again on 2 July 2019 with the below text:

Due to the release of the White Paper outlining our recommendations for the 2021 Census, we have decided to release additional documents originally withheld under s.35(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. We have provided all information relating to the Welsh Language question, all other information not relating this has been considered as out of scope and redacted.

Documents 5 to 10 relate to research conducted to assist in the development of questions for the 2021 Census. Later in 2019, we plan to publish details of how the research that was conducted fed into recommendations for the 2021 Census questions.  

The research documents released includes the testing of: 

  • Welsh language use (to ensure they were both acceptable and comprehensible)

  • changes to the main language question in Wales

  • the Welsh language question in England

Part of the development of the 2021 Census  is  the requirement to deliver a suitable questionnaire for use in Wales.  Since this FOI request (in May 2018), we have continued to develop the Welsh questionnaire, through research and consultation. The final topics and questions, on the Welsh questionnaire, to be included in the 2021 Census, will be subject to the approval of the National Assembly for Wales.