Dyfodol i’r Iaith has expressed sadness on hearing of the death of Welsh Language Commissioner.

Heini Gruffudd, the organisation’s Chair said:

“The untimely loss of Aled Roberts is a blow to Wales and the Welsh language. We are grateful for his contribution, his strong leadership and his practical emphasis on the use of Welsh and his passion for the language.”

“Our thoughts are with Aled Roberts’s family at this difficult time.”



Dyfodol Calls for a Revolution in Welsh Broadcasting

Dyfodol i’r Iaith has called for fundamental changes in the management of broadcasting in Wales. With the Westminster government threatening to scrap the licence fee which funds Radio Cymru and S4C, Dyfodol now wants to see the control of all broadcasting in Wales transferred to a new broadcasting authority under the supervision of the Welsh Government.

Eifion Lloyd Jones said on behalf of Dyfodol:

“For a century, the BBC has been maintained as a public service for all through the licence fee. The substantial total of that revenue has ensured adequate funding for a successful service that has set a standard that the rest of the world has aspired to. In a world which now receives information from a variety of sometimes suspect sources, public broadcasting remains the gold standard for well-researched and unbiased news.

C4 and S4C were also founded as public services in 1981, although a small proportion of their income is generated through commercial business. But these channels were not sustained by their commercial value – Welsh language broadcasting would not survive commercially. It is also impossible to imagine the present Westminster Government granting adequate funding for S4C, given the constant real cuts to the channel’s budget over the past decade.

Since broadcasting and communication in the UK is controlled by Westminster, they set the BBC’s licence fee and they decide the fate of C4 and S4C.  It was Westminster, therefore, that insisted on directly linking S4C’s main budget to the BBC licence fee. That, in our opinion, was the first mistake, and although S4C itself has welcomed the security that this brings, the financial dependence of S4C on the British Corporation threatens the Welsh channel’s future funding and editorial independence.

With the current Conservative government set upon undermining the BBC’s independence as they believe the Corporation is too critical of them, their policy is now to freeze the cost of the licence for two years and thereafter only increase it in line with inflation, whilst threatening to abolish it completely in 2027. The two-year freeze is bad news for all services: Radio Cymru will be directly affected and S4C indirectly so. Scrapping the fee altogether would threaten the very existence of a public service, as any other means of funding would depend on viewers’ response to programme content. Inevitably, popular programmes would attract viewers whilst quality, time-consuming and costly programming would face oblivion. Without adequate funding, these programmes would soon disappear.

“In the context of Wales and the Welsh language, the number of viewers alone could not justify any kind of substantial television or radio service for BBC Wales, S4C, Radio Wales or Radio Cymru. We must not be fooled by the extra £7.5 million awarded to S4C for the next six years to provide content on-line. This is less than 10% of the Channel’s annual budget, and that £88 million total has decreased in real terms over the years with its effect to be seen daily on our screens.

The fate of the Welsh language would therefore follow the decline in its use on the media transmitted to our nation’s homes. In a word, the future of the Welsh language depends on its being seen and heard publicly. S4C is the main source of Welsh in our homes and its contribution to children’s language development is immeasurable. In non-Welsh-speaking households, it is the ‘Cyw’ programme genre that strengthens the work of ‘Cylchoedd Meithrin’ and primary schools in transferring the language naturally into the consciousness of our children.”

Dyfodol calls upon the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru to take the following steps as part of their agreement to develop the media in Wales. This agreement should not only concentrate on new media but should also safeguard and develop the current media outlets which are relevant to most Welsh speakers.

  1. Control of the media in Wales should be transferred to an independent Welsh authority, overseen by the Welsh Government.
  2. The future of S4C should be unshackled from that of the BBC and be an independent body, answerable to the new Welsh broadcasting authority and receiving a sufficient annual budget in line with inflation at least.
  3. The Welsh radio service should be safeguarded, and since the BBC’s future budget cannot adequately fund the service, it should be devolved from the British network and developed as an independent Welsh service – again answerable to the new Welsh broadcasting authority.

Eifion Lloyd Jones added:

“Although these steps may appear to be a revolution in broadcasting, we should ask ourselves: what other country in the world would be happy to see their main communication channels controlled by another country? When revolutions occur across the world, possession of media outlets becomes the priority of their new leaders. The bullet holes I’ve seen on the walls of broadcasting stations in eastern Europe bear witness to this. Our call is for a peaceful revolution: one that would secure the future of Welsh broadcasting, and through that, the future of the Welsh language.”


Holiday Homes, Social Housing and the Welsh Language: Dyfodol i’r Iaith’s Recommendations

Holiday Homes, Social Housing and the Welsh Language: Dyfodol i’r Iaith’s Recommendations

 In response to the challenge of reducing the numbers of holiday and second homes within Welsh communities, the Welsh Government has offered £2m to Gwynedd and £1m each to Anglesey, Pembrokeshire and and Carmarthenshire in an attempt to alleviate the current crisis.

Dyfodol i’r Iaith is of the opinion that substantial and urgent action must be taken. The Government’s current offer roughly equates to buying or building 24 homes, which is a paltry solution, given the scale of the problem.

Cynog Dafis, a member of Dyfodol’s Board has produced a report which outlines how, in terms of action and investment, to seriously tackle the housing crisis within those areas where the Welsh language is a living community language.

The report suggest a new way* of ensuring that tourism creates a source of income to provide homes for local people and boost the economic development of these areas.

1) A New Source of Income

Dyfodol calls upon the Welsh Government to earmark £200m capital to be mainly spent within the west (Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire) where the housing crisis is at its worse and the blow to the Welsh language felt most keenly. Roughly speaking, this should allow for 800 homes to be bought or built.

These houses can then be used in two ways:

  • As social housing to respond to local needs, with the option of part-ownership
  • As holiday let properties in public ownership

Profits from the second category would be used as funding to subsidise social housing and/or to pay for developments benefitting the local community and the western region more generally.

The following arrangements are suggested for the management and administration of the work:

  • A Consortium of the relevant local authorities
  • The Arfor project, which is set to develop further over the coming years
  • Unnos, the body proposed by the Welsh Government for the provision of housing

In the future, transferring the stock to community ventures may be considered, but in the short to medium term, its is important to ensure that the scheme is managed through the public sector.

2 Urgent Action

Dyfodol calls upon the Welsh Government to urgently commission a study regarding the potential and practical obligations of the scheme outlined above. It should be possible to publish the findings of such a study by Easter 2022, before moving ahead.

In the meantime, more can and should be achieved. While the proposal is being researched, adequate resources should be allocated, allowing local authorities to interrupt the market by buying, renovating or building new homes in response to local need.

Dyfodol i’r Iaith fully supports the recommendations of Simon Brooks’s report and looks forward to seeing these being fully put into action.

*The proposal was originally launched last year in articles by Cynog Dafis, published in  Golwg and the Western Mail – (see Appendix). Following this, Dyfodol was given to understand that the proposals were being considered by the Welsh Government.


How to make Holiday Homes into a Welsh Asset.

 The debate about holiday homes has been grinding on for decades but the pandemic has injected a new urgency into the situation. What with Brexit and a certain nervousness about frequent foreign travel, there is every reason to believe that holidaying in Wales will become more attractive. The second homes problem, a function of the vast disparity in economic prosperity between the big cities and rural Wales, is set to get much worse.

A flurry of initiatives is now being proposed to deal with what has become a crisis in our rural communities, including those where Welsh is a community language. They include raising council tax on second homes to punitive levels; building more social and “affordable” housing for local people; using planning regulations to limit the percentage of holiday homes allowed in certain communities. There is merit in all of these ideas though none is without its downsides,

What all of them leave out, with the exception of a recent initiative by Gwynedd to purchase a small number of houses for local use, is the existing housing stock and a whole lot of other property likely to become vacant in the near futures: retail space in high streets and a host of redundant chapels to give two examples. How to gain access to these properties for local use is the question, given that purchase and renovation is, for various reasons a relatively expensive business.

The key is to capture some of the undoubted profit that can be made from holiday homes for local community use – in effect to transfer some of the wealth of the big cities to the relatively disadvantaged economies of rural Wales.

I propose that a public or community owned body would purchase property on the market and develop  a proportion as holiday accommodation and the rest for social housing. The former would cross-subsidise the latter.

Herewith an example. A three-bedroom house bought for £200,000 (the current average price of a house in Wales) would be rented for social housing at about £90 a week, giving a gross income of £4,600 a year. Such a house, a desirable but unremarkable bungalow on the Ceredigion coast, is offered at £500 a week which, assuming 40 weeks per annum occupancy, comes to £20,000.

Those are crude figures of course. There would be various on-costs, council tax, mortgage payments, renovation and maintenance and for the holiday home insurance, marketing, hiring and the weekly clean. On the other hand an element of public subsidy and/or community investment might be appropriate. Whatever the case, the scope for cross-subsidy seems obvious.

Who would run such an enterprise? Some options are

  • A subsidiary established by a local authority or a consortium
  • Housing associations
  • Not-for profit community businesses
  • A development agency such as Arfor, proposed by Adam Price for the West

Such an initiative would be small-scale and experimental to begin with, learning as it goes. But is there any reason why it could not over time become a significant factor in confronting the crisis and providing for community needs? A single initial organisation could spawn local and regional companies, preferably community controlled, to which stock could be transferred.

There would be multiple benefits.

Welsh communities would be empowered, taking ownership of a section of the tourism business, rather than being victims of market forces beyond their control.

Social housing, including shared and assisted ownership options, would be provided from the existing housing stock, at the heart of towns and villages, rather than segregated in new estates on the outskirts.

There would be a mechanism for upgrading existing housing in terms of quality, energy efficiency and retrofitted small-scale renewables.

Green space would be protected for sustainable food-production, wildlife habitat and leisure.

Hundreds of jobs in local businesses involved in renovation and the supply chain and in servicing the holiday homes, would be created.

Welsh-speaking communities would be afforded some protected from the effects of the constant, unnecessary expansion of the housing stock, often irrelevant to local needs and driven by the interests of outside large-scale developers.

This is currently no more than a concept but I believe it at least merits consideration. The new Welsh Government soon to be elected should commission a feasibility study and if the concept stands up get a pilot project going immediately

Cynog Dafis 25.02.21