Plans to more than quadruple the number of customers registered to manage their water and sewerage accounts in Welsh are being unveiled today.
Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water company in Wales and England, announced the ambitious target as part of its plan to increase the number of customers who interact with it in the language.
Believed to be the first target of its kind in the private sector in Wales, the plan includes a commitment to more than quadruple the number of customers registered for a Welsh language service from the 6,500 to 25,000 by 2025.
Welsh Water offers a range of bilingual services for customers to interact with it to manage their accounts, report issues or to find out about any work taking place in their area. This includes a dedicated Welsh-language contact centre, a fully bilingual website as well as social media channels and an online chat facility.
With such a variety of services available in Welsh, the company is keen to ensure its Welsh-speaking customers are aware of and make use of the service. That is why it has put in place its ambitious target which will see a huge increase in the number of its customers registered for the Welsh service.
Chris Jones, Welsh Water’s Chief Executive said: “As a not-for-profit company focused on meeting and exceeding the expectations of our customers, we are continuously looking at ways we can improve the service we offer. The Welsh-language services we offer are integral to this and we have made significant investment since we became a not-for-profit company to increase the range of services available in Welsh.
“But it’s important that we do more than just offer the service – we must also do all we can to ensure we get as many Welsh speakers using the service, because we know there is demand for it.
“We know there can be barriers for some people interacting with companies in Welsh. That is why we will be working together with Welsh Government and the Welsh Language Commissioner to better understand how to overcome these barriers – and work together to help the language flourish in everyday use”.
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan AM, said: “As a country, we have an ambitious and exciting target to reach a million Welsh speakers by 20250. As a Government, we are fully committed to the target and I’m hugely encouraged that there is so much support across the country for this ambition.
“A leading company like Welsh Water setting a target like this is in itself encouraging and supports our efforts to increase the use of Welsh”.
Welsh Language Commissioner, Aled Roberts, said: “Welsh Water has already done good work developing their Welsh service – a bilingual chatbot and text messages service and Welsh video conversations. Setting this target is another big step for the company and is to be welcomed.”
The target was officially launched at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst. The target has also been submitted as one of Welsh Water’s measures of success for the 2020-2025 investment period. These measures, including the Welsh language target, will be formally monitored by the industry regulator Ofwat and used as a measure of how successfully the company has performed during the period.
To coincide with the launch, Welsh Water has also running a survey to gather feedback from people about their views on Welsh language services which are offered. The survey can be found here.