THERE has been a rise in the number of people who speak Welsh in parts of Gwent, according to new figures.

The annual population survey by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests that across Wales 874,700 people are able to speak the language, up from 858,800 at the same time last year.

In Newport, the number of people who say they can speak Welsh has risen from 28,700 to 31,100, a rise of 1.4 per cent.

Elin Maher, chair of Menter Iaith Casnewydd said: "We acknowledge that there are many sources of data available that measure different aspects of the Welsh language and that questions are asked differently with different surveys.

"We can only take the recent results as a positive sign that the people of Newport are slowly rediscovering that the Welsh language belongs to us all and that it’s an integral part of our identity as Newport residents."

Meanwhile the survey of people aged three or over who say they can speak Welsh found that there has been a rise of 900 people who say they can speak the language in Caerphilly, 300 in Monmouthshire and 100 in Blaenau Gwent.

However in Torfaen the number of people who say they are Welsh speakers has fallen from 17,100 to 15,800 over the same period.

Mary Scourfield chief officer at Menter Iaith Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen a Mynwy said: “In terms of the reduction of the numbers of Welsh speakers in Torfaen, it is quite possible that many Welsh speakers have moved to live and work in other areas, like Cardiff, where Welsh language skills are considered highly valuable and are far more often seen as ‘essential’ on job descriptions.

"It is this workforce planning that the Welsh Language Commissioner has advocated as the way forward for increasing the use of the Welsh language across all parts of Wales.

“Employers in Torfaen are beginning to realise the added value of this skill. Over time, a reversal in these figures will likely ensue as the Welsh language becomes more embedded in the area with the expansion of Ysgol Gyfun Gynllyw as a 3 to18 years education provider and the creation of another Welsh medium primary school in Torfaen.

"Menter Iaith Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen a Mynwy is a Welsh Government funded initiative to promote and develop opportunities to use the Welsh language in communities.

"Although recognising that this is a challenge in some parts of South East Wales, as the ONS figures suggest, the Menter Iaith supports the dedication and success of the Welsh medium schools in Torfaen in supporting the ambitious strategy for a million Welsh speakers by 2050."