There has been an increase in the number of young people in Wales speaking Welsh. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) has welcomed the news but warned there are still barriers to overcome.

Wales Online reports that an update of the Office for National Statistics’ 2011 Census has revealed that 2.4 times more under-16s are now able to speak the language than those aged 16 to 64. In addition, 2.3 times more children aged under 16 can speak Welsh than people aged over 65.

In the original 2011 census it was revealed that over the course of ten years the number of Welsh speakers had declined from 20.5 per cent of Wales’ population to 19 per cent. This news prompted activists campaigning to preserve the native Celtic language to warn of a crisis. While the number of children speaking Welsh is now rising, there is still much variation across the country.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg regularly campaigns for more government support to be given to encouraging Welsh language learning and increasing its use in the country. However, chairman Robin Farrar claims the government is serving as a barrier to people who “want to live their lives in Welsh”.

Speaking to Wales Online, he goes on to suggest that both determined and political action is required to safeguard the future of the language and encourage more people to speak it. “So many people want to live their lives in Welsh: from the parents who invest in Welsh-medium education, to the people who learn the language in the workplace and as adults,” he adds.

Meanwhile, a government spokesperson welcomed the news, saying the future of the language lay in the hands of future generations, so it is “encouraging” to hear they are learning Welsh. She adds that the new figures will be used to inform the government’s Welsh language focus in the future.

Welsh language spokesman for Plaid Cymru Simon Thomas noted that Wales belonged to everyone who lived there and not only to those who speak the native language. However, he added that everybody deserved the opportunity to learn to speak Welsh, regardless of their age and background.

After the original release of the Census results, Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones said: “The Welsh government could be taking immediate action to support the language. There are many things that it can be doing now.” She suggested that the government should be “alarmed” by the results of the Census and urged them to take action.

In April, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg reported that several government budgets allocate very little funding to Welsh language provision. Instead, 99 per cent of the finance is used to support English language initiatives.

However, this month the campaign group welcomed news the government is organising a review of all departmental spending. The government has also revealed it will hold a national debate entitled Y Gynhadledd Fawr (The Big Conference) with the aim of gauging the views of people living in Wales in order to preserve the future of the Welsh language.