The Welsh Language Board (Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg) is a statutory body set up by the UK Government as part of the Welsh Language Act 1993. It is now an Assembly Sponsored Public Body. It began its life under John Walter Jones OBE and its current Chief Executive is Meirion P. Jones.
It receives an annual government grant of £12m which is to be used to "promote and facilitate" the use of the Welsh language.
The Board is responsible for administering the Welsh Language Act and for seeing that public bodies in Wales keep to its terms. Over 350 Language plans have now been agreed with a range of bodies named under the provisions of the Welsh Language Act. At times it has been criticised for failing to demand any action by these bodies and the board has come under attack in past years for its reluctance to promote the use of the Welsh language in the private sector. Since 2000 this stance has changed and the WLB now has a unit devoted to the interests of the language in terms of its increased use within the economy.
In the past many Welsh speakers perceived the Board as an ineffective and bureaucratic tool in the fight to save the Welsh language. However, since the establishment of a National Assembly it has manifestly adopted a more robust attitude to the promotion of Welsh and its earlier strategies and innovative projects are now bearing fruit. Language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg claim that a new Welsh Language Act is needed to secure the rights of Welsh speakers and to increase its usage among the younger generation. The Welsh Language Board is currently engaged with others in securing such legislation together with the office of a Language Commissioner.
The Welsh Language Board has been at the forefront of promoting bilingual design. They have supported this goal by holding the annual Welsh Language Board bilingual awards. In 2006 winners included, FBA, Glass Hammer, Synergy Creative Design & Marketing, Hoffi, 6721, Elfen, Zodshop and Departures.
In the winter of 2004 Rhodri Morgan the First Minister of Wales announced his decision to abolish the Welsh Language Board. This decision evoked a mixed reaction throughout Wales; welcomed by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg but met with scepticism by others. Its future is still unknown.