Welsh Affairs Select Committee hears that demographic change threatens services and the Welsh language

December 2023 | Arfor, Featured, Rural policy

Big Ben, London

On the morning of Wednesday 6 December 2023 the Welsh Affairs Select Committee heard from a variety of experts as they started to consider the effects of demographic change on comminities in Wales. In a session that will be of interest to anyone who is worried about the future of communities in Wales, the Committee heard about the challenges that communities accross the countries are facing.

There was evidence from:

  • Emma Rourke, Deputy National Statistician and Director General for Health, Population and Methods, Office for National Statistics
  • Jen Woolford, Director of Population Statistics, Office for National Statistics
  • Professor Michael Woods, FAcSS, FLSW, Professor of Human Geography and Co-Director, Centre for Welsh Politics and Society, Aberystwyth University
  • Meirion Thomas, Director – Wales, Industrial Communities Alliance

During the session the problems facing Welsh communities were mentioned several times. When replying to a question posed by the chair of the Committee Stephen Crabb asking if there should be concern about Wales’s demographic data, Proffessor Mike Woods said:

‘I think there is cause for concern about communities which have persistent negative population change and i think there is a concern there about the impact of that on the viability of local services, and there’s a potential for a viscious circle, once you start losing services because of the population falls then is becomes less attractive for others to move in. The long term trend is loss of population in rural and coastal communities, more population concentrating in towns and that might be an issue of concern when it comes to service provision and the viability of smaller communities, and is a particular issue around majority Welsh speaking communities. I don’t have the details to hand about what might be the composition of in-migrants and out-migrants from those but certainly were seeing a number of those communities particularly in Carmarthenshire and north west Wales where were seeing communities crossing from being majority Welsh speaking communities, dipping beneath that.’

You can watch the session in it’s entirety on Parliament TV.

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