If you need our Welsh Language Scheme as a PDF you can find it here. (PDF, 14 Pages, 242 KB)
Welsh Language Scheme prepared in accordance with the Welsh Language Act 1993 (the Act) and the Regulatory Code for Housing Associations in Wales, Welsh Assembly Government, March 2006.
This Scheme received the approval of the Welsh Language Board under section 14(1) of the Act on 30 March 2011.
Aim of the Scheme
We adopted the principle, that in the conduct of public business in Wales, that we will treat the Welsh and English languages on the basis of equality. This scheme notes how we will operate that principle in providing services to the public in Wales.
We acknowledge that members of the public can express their opinions and needs better in their chosen language. We also acknowledge that enabling the public to use the Welsh language is a matter of good practice rather than a concession, and that denying them the right to use their chosen language could place them in a disadvantaged position. We will therefore offer the public the right to choose which language to use when dealing with us, in accordance with the principle above.
Background and Corporate Values
We are a unique, community based housing organisation in Torfaen set up specifically to own, manage and improve the homes previously owned by Torfaen County Borough Council. We are:
- A major land owner in the County Borough, providing nearly 90% of affordable housing in the County Borough and providing services to several thousand older people in Torfaen.
- One of the largest construction businesses in South East Wales with an annual turnover in that area of our business of £34 million.
- A construction business that aims to develop our soft skills to provide a supportive approach for our tenants.
Our aims are to:
- Provide high-quality, energy efficient, affordable homes, high-quality communal areas, and excellent services to tenants and leaseholders in Torfaen.
- Promote and support vibrant, safe, clean and healthy communities working in close partnership with residents and the Council.
- Run an open and democratic organisation with high levels of community involvement.
- Use the resources we have to best effect in maximising other benefits to the community, including creating and sustaining local jobs, increasing skills, and minimising negative impact on the environment.
- Provide support for people who need it.
Our values reflect the joint views of tenants and staff about the kind of organisation
they want us to be.
- Cares about people and communities.
- Is passionate about excellent service delivery.
- Is innovative and creative and willing to take risks.
- Listens and learns.
- Respects and values diversity and promotes equality of opportunity.
- Is trustworthy, open and honest in all it does.
- Is accountable to the communities it serves.
- Welcomes constructive challenge.
- Involves people in decisions that affect them.
- Has sustainability at the heart of its thinking.
- Is proud to be a non-profit-making social business delivering a public service.
Structure and Area of Operation
We are owned by our tenants and residents in Torfaen, governed by a Board consisting of 15 members. A Membership Committee made up of 25 members holds our Board to account on behalf of our Members and closely monitors the work we do.
We employ over 400 members of staff. The majority of staff work from our Headquarters in Cwmbran.
Our service users are primarily those looking for a home or tenants.
The Welsh Language
The 2001 census identified that within the County Borough of Torfaen 11.10% of the population aged 3 years and over were reported as able to speak Welsh.
8054 homes were transferred to us from the Council in 2008. During 2007, a major consultation exercise took place with tenants which involved home visits to more than 90% of these tenants to explain the stock transfer process and ensure that they had the information they needed to enable them to make an informed choice in a tenants’ ballot. All those visited were asked if they wanted to receive any information in Welsh and none did so at the time of the visit. Subsequently, one tenant did request the Offer Document in Welsh which was provided.
This policy has been framed on the basis that, at present, the Welsh-speaking population amongst those people who work with us who are known to us is very small in number but individuals may request and have the right to ask us to use Welsh if that is their preferred language. In relation to future potential users we want to ensure that they have equality of access to our services and jobs whatever their language of choice so we will produce access documentation bilingually. Lastly, we will promote and support the enhancement of the Welsh language through the provision of language training for our staff and members.
The arrangements will be kept under review and should circumstances change, we will ensure that the Welsh Language Scheme is reviewed to reflect changes in the community language profile and that resources are made available to reflect such circumstances.
The contact point for the Language Scheme is the Chief Executive, who can be contacted here.
Policies and Initiatives
In formulating new policies and initiatives, or in amending policies, we will assess their linguistic impact and make sure they are consistent with this Scheme and will ensure that the measures in the Scheme are implemented when new policies and initiatives are implemented.
We will consult the Welsh Language Board beforehand regarding any proposal which would directly affect this Language Scheme. This Scheme will not be amended without the prior agreement of the Welsh Language Board.
We will ensure that whoever is involved in the formulation of policies is aware of the Scheme and of our responsibilities under the Regulatory Code and the Welsh Language Act 1993.
We aim to deliver the same high standard of service in both Welsh and English.
We will ensure through clear information and signposting that those dealing with us are aware of how we can communicate with each other both in Welsh and English as required. All key documents will contain the following statement in Welsh:
“If you would like any of our information in Welsh please ask. You can do so by visiting us or writing to us at the address below or by telephoning 01633 620 111. If you would find it easier to talk to us in Welsh we can arrange for a Welsh speaker to be present at an appointment.”
This statement will also be displayed in all our reception areas.
We will endeavour to establish the chosen language of those dealing with us and strive to ensure that we have sufficient members of staff who are competent and confident enough to offer assistance and service to Welsh. Where necessary to ensure a high quality service we will supplement the language skills of our staff with professional translation services and these facilities will be readily available to avoid any unnecessary delay in service provision.
Services provided for the public by other organisations
Regulatory functions and third party services
Any contracts or arrangements made with a third party will be consistent with relevant sections of this Scheme.
Services provided in Welsh and in English will be equal in quality and so far as possible we aim to provide them within the same timescales.
- We welcome correspondence in Welsh.
- All correspondence will be dealt with promptly and correspondence through the medium of Welsh should not in itself lead to any significant delay.
- When someone writes to us in Welsh, we will provide a reply in Welsh (if a reply is needed).
- We will keep a record of those persons who wish to deal with us in Welsh.
- We will agree arrangements for correspondence and for arranging translation.
Communication over the telephone
- We welcome personal enquiries in Welsh or English.
- Our switchboard staff will answer telephone calls with a bilingual greeting.
- In order to achieve the aim of treating the Welsh and English languages on an equal basis, we will take the following steps to enable Welsh speakers to deal with us in Welsh over the telephone:
- Provide an internal directory of Welsh speakers to whom calls can be
- Provide staff with guidelines on how to deal with telephone calls from
Welsh speakers and ensure that they are familiar with the arrangements.
- When public meetings are held by us, including conferences and other similar events, those present will be welcome to contribute through the medium of Welsh or English.
- When there are Welsh speakers among those invited to attend, or if it is known that Welsh speakers intend to be present, translation facilities should be arranged.
As well as translation equipment, we will assess the need for members of staff who speak Welsh to be present to welcome the public and to deal with their inquiries. Our staff will make their language abilities evident at meetings, for example, by greeting people bilingually and using the Welsh Language Board’s “Iaith Gwaith” badges.
We welcome meetings with the public in Welsh or in English, but due to the shortage of Welsh speakers, we cannot guarantee a face to face meeting in Welsh. In such circumstances we will politely explain the situation and offer other options, such as organising translation or proceeding with the meeting in English.
Communicating with the public in other ways
We will consider the best ways of meeting the needs of Welsh speakers in whichever way we deal with the public.
Corporate Identity and signs
We have a bilingual identity promoting us and our premises and services using a bilingual logo.
When we renew or re-erect any signs we will ensure that the new versions are totally bilingual. Signs erected for the first time will be totally bilingual.
The size, standard of clarity and prominence of the words on the signs will respect the principle of language equality.
Publishing and Printing Materials including forms and explanatory materials
We will produce documents that are needed to access our services for the first
time in both languages.
This will include:
- Leaflets explaining how to become a tenant, how to apply for jobs and how to join as a member, how to contact us.
- Application forms for housing, employment and membership.
- A summary of our Welsh language Scheme explaining people’s rights to deal with us in Welsh if they wish to.
We will produce these documents separately in each language giving people the choice of which language version they require. We will keep this under review on a yearly basis as the Scheme progresses.
Our website is mainly in English but we will ensure that:
- Our Welsh Language Scheme will be posted on our website.
- The access information referred to above is also available in Welsh through our website including a webpage explaining in Welsh how people can deal with us using the Welsh language if they wish to.
Press Releases and presentations
Usually, these will be issued in English. There may be notices or events where bilingual presentation is considered appropriate; this will be provided.
Staffing and recruitment
We will make arrangements to ensure, to the extent that it is reasonably practical, that workplaces which have contact with the public have access to staff with appropriate Welsh language skills to enable those workplaces to provide a service in Welsh. The degree to which this is necessary or possible will vary, depending on the service and on the area.
In order to ensure that we have appropriate Welsh language skills in the correct places, we will follow the following process:
- We will note those workplaces and posts where the ability to speak Welsh is desirable or essential.
- We will conduct an audit every year to establish the number of staff who have Welsh language skills, as well as their level of ability and location.
- The results of these two exercises will be compared in order to identify workplaces where there is a shortage of staff with appropriate skills in the Welsh language.
We will respond to any lack of skills by means of recruitment or training.
We will also provide awareness training for staff with regard to the requirements of this Scheme. Our standard practice will be to include such training in the induction of new staff.
Welsh Language Training
We will undertake to support staff to learn Welsh wherever it is able to do so. The type of language training offered to staff will be appropriate to each individual’s personal and professional needs, and the requirements of the organisation’s business, but could include:
- General introduction to the language for complete learners.
- Confidence building sessions for staff with some knowledge of the Language.
- Welsh for front line staff advanced courses.
- Welsh Language Awareness.
This Scheme has our full authority, support and approval. The Chief Executive has the overall responsibility for the implementation of the Language Scheme and all our members of staff have a responsibility to know how to implement the Scheme effectively.
The relevant director will be responsible for implementing the clauses of the Language Scheme.
Reviewing the Implementation of the Scheme
The Director of Community Investment and Involvement has responsibility for monitoring and reviewing this Scheme.
We will use our standard comments, compliments and complaints processes to record and deal with feedback about this Scheme and will ensure that it will be possible to monitor specific complaints about the Scheme.
The Chief Executive will report to our Board annually and will send a copy of the report to the Welsh Language Board. The report will follow a format agreed with the Board and will include information about the nature of any complaints and improvement suggestions received from the public in respect of the Scheme.
Publication of Information
We will include a statement in our bilingual Annual Report for public consumption, noting where members of the public can obtain a copy of our annual monitoring report to the Welsh Language Board.
We will ensure that members of the public who deal with us know about this Scheme and its contents, and how they can conduct their dealings with us in Welsh.
Our methods of publicising the Scheme and its contents will follow our usual corporate publicity arrangements, and will include ensuring that the Scheme is published in a prominent location on our website.