September 3, 2011

IconGovernment tells councils to stop monitoring equality

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced an end to “unnecessary and intrusive” surveys that include questions about personal issues such as sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, race and religion.

New guidance for local authorities published by the Department for Communities and Local Government states that there is no requirement for councils to undertake diversity surveys.

“At a time when taxpayers are watching their pennies, the last thing councils should be doing is sending out unnecessary and intrusive questionnaires,” said Pickles.

“Local residents shouldn’t be asked to reveal detailed personal information just because they’ve enquired about getting their bins emptied or how to join their local library. Clamping down on such town hall activity will save taxpayers’ money and protect the privacy of residents of all backgrounds.”

The move has been condemned by LGB rights group Stonewall. “If public services don’t monitor across equality strands then how can they know whether they are effectively meeting their taxpayers’ needs?” said a spokesperson for charity.

“For example, the rate of breast cancer is higher among lesbians, so knowing how many lesbians live in a particular area is vital for health services to provide the right services.”

A government press release states that the new approach will avoid “duplicating information already collected in the Census”. However, the Census does not collect information on lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans identity.

1 Response to Government tells councils to stop monitoring equality

  1. Kathryn Hyde says:

    Presumably the comment on libraries is a reaction to the news that Islington libraries have a rather unneccessarily detailed questionnaire for residents wishing to become members? They will still have to capture new members’ details, such as name and address, so taking off the equality monitoring sections is hardly going to save money…