This bulletin looks at the topic summary data from the 2021 Census for England and Wales for main language, English or Welsh language proficiency, and household language. The data was published on 29 November 2022 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It provides unrounded population and household estimates at North Wales and unitary authority level.
Figures for language are for people aged three years old and over.
In Wales, people were asked if their main language was anything other than English or Welsh. Therefore, it is not possible to determine from this question how many people in Wales considered Welsh to be their main language. There was a separate question for people in Wales asking them about their Welsh language ability.
- The proportion of North Wales residents aged three and over who have English or Welsh as their main language is higher than the average for England and Wales as a whole.
- 97.1% of usual residents aged three years and over (648,555 people) had English or Welsh as a main language. This is a decrease compared with 2011, when 97.7% had English or Welsh as a main language. (Wales in 2021 = 96.7% and England and Wales = 91.1%).
- In North Wales in 2021 the proportion who had English or Welsh as a main language was highest in Anglesey at 99.1% and lowest in Wrexham at 94.9%. Compared to 2011, only Wrexham and Flintshire saw a decrease of more than 0.1%. The decrease in Flintshire (1.6 percentage points) was the highest seen across Wales.
- A further 2.2% (14,894) of the overall population of North Wales could speak English or Welsh either “well” or “very well”, but did not speak it as their main language. This takes the figure for those who have a good level of proficiency in English or Welsh to 99.3%.
- (3,746 people) could not speak English or Welsh well, and a small percentage (0.1% or 709 people) could not speak English or Welsh at all – a total of 0.7% of the population aged three and over. The proportion was highest in Wrexham at 1.3% and lowest in Anglesey at 0.2%. (Wales = 0.7% and England and Wales = 1.8%).
- As in 2011, Polish was the most common main language after English or Welsh for North Wales as a whole (1.0%), and for each of the unitary authority areas in the region (highest in Wrexham at 2.5% and lowest in Anglesey at 0.1%).
- In addition to spoken languages, British Sign Language (BSL) was the preferred language of 169 (0.03%) usual residents aged three years and over across North Wales. A further 83 usual residents who selected a non-spoken language as their main language reported a sign language or communication system other than BSL.
- 2021 Census: first results
- 2021 Census: demography & migration
- 2021 Census: UK armed forces veterans
- 2021 Census: ethnic group
- 2021 Census: religion
- 2021 Census: education
- 2021 Census: sexual orientation and gender identity
The ONS has also published Language: Census 2021 in England and Wales which includes some data down to output area.
North Wales Regional Innovation Coordination Hub
Phone: 01824 712432