Better internet services pledged [Western Mail (Wales)]
(Western Mail (Wales) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) WELSH speakers can expect a "simpler, clearer and faster" service when they use UK Government web pages, according to the director in charge of a radical overhaul of Whitehall's online world.
The UK Government has identi-fied Pounds 1.7bn in potential annual savings by making services "digital by default".
Mike Bracken, executive director of Government Digital Services, described his commitment to ensuring that Welsh-speakers will be able to make the most of the new online one-stop-shop site, gov.uk He said: "We built gov.uk to meet the needs of all users and that's why I'm pleased we're supporting Welsh speakers in accessing government information and services. "We're working closely with the Wales Office to ensure that the Welsh language content on gov.uk is underpinned by high-quality user research that provides a simpler, clearer and faster service for users."
All Government organisations are now able to publish versions of their news and other publications both in English and in Welsh, with users able to toggle between the two versions. A Welsh language hub has also been launched at www.gov.uk/cymraeg Heini Gruffudd, chair of Dyfodol i'r Iaith, welcomed the efforts but said many Welsh- speakers would struggle to understand the technical language used in some translations.
He said: "Having gone onto their present website I find the Welsh used is far beyond ordinary Welsh speakers."
Mr Gruffudd recommended the Government websites use "an idiom and level of language that corresponds to most people".
He admitted: "I've had some forms myself that I can't understand because of the technicality of the terms used, probably correctly.
A good Welsh speaker wouldn't be aware of them."
Welsh Secretary and Clwyd West Conservative MP David Jones said: "The UK Government is committed to providing high-quality online Welsh language services and as a Welsh speaker I fully understand the crucial and important role the language plays in our identity and culture."
An official from the Office of the Welsh Language Commissioner was seconded to the Wales Office last year.
Jamie Bevan, of pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, raised concerns.
He said: "Online services provided by the UK Government in Welsh are generally very poor and patchy. Instead of getting everything in Welsh, people are expected to put up with second-rate services. Indeed, the move from paper to online-only provision has led to a decline in Welsh language provision by many departments. It's having a negative impact on language use."
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