While I have been critical of the coalition’s record on liberty, I am also willing to acknowledge when they get things right and Eric Pickles, by and large[sic] does seem to be making the right noises. Today we see him taking on those nasty, intrusive questionnaires so beloved of local government (and the NHS).
The government is telling councils to stop asking questions about people’s sexuality, race and health in surveys.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is issuing guidelines for councils about asking for personal information.
These remove the requirement for local authorities to conduct “intrusive lifestyle and diversity” surveys.
And jolly good, too. Not only are they extremely wasteful of our tax pounds, they are interfering and nosey. When I want to take up services from my local council (not often, I grant you) I do not expect them to ask me personal questions about my lifestyle, health, ethnicity or religion.
Last spring when Mrs L and I were doing battle over our council tax and attempting to secure some benefits to help us through a tricky patch we received a questionnaire – or two, or three. I lost count. They went in the bin, which is exactly where they deserved to end up. The level of questioning – and we received several because the council wants to know each time you deal with a different department and on each occasion that you do so, it seems – was ostensibly about *customer satisfaction, but also included the obligatory diversity nonsense. All of it went unanswered. Just as any diversity questions on job applications go unanswered. Although I notice more and more that these ones have a “prefer not to say” option. I wonder if they are getting the message? Oh, yes, I always prefer not to say :twisted:.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said that its one-page statutory guidance replaces “the 56 pages of John Prescott’s so-called ‘Best Value’ guidance”.
56 pages, for crying out loud. If Pickles can condense it onto a one page affair, what was Prescott thinking? Okay, thinking is, perhaps the wrong word here, but you get the drift.
Apparently, some councils were asking about whether people had AIDS, diabetes or were transgender. My reaction to being asked any of these questions would be a massive WTF!?! Rapidly followed by “It’s none of your damned business!” Yet there are many – one of my sisters included – who will willingly answer each and every question truthfully. I expect she was honest on her census form, too.
As a general rule of thumb, I do not answer any questionnaires, surveys, customer satisfaction happy sheets or anything that wants information from me that I am not willing to volunteer without a prompt. And when it comes to government of whichever hue, the less we tell them about ourselves, the better, frankly.
An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokeswoman said: “Collecting personal information allows councils to target services where they are needed most.
“However, there is a balancing act to be done between the need to protect a person’s privacy and the need for councils to collect this information.”
There is no balancing act. Provide the service to those who pay the taxes and keep your nose out of people’s private affairs. It really couldn’t be much simpler than that. Those who need services have tongues in their heads, they can ask. It’s why we have telephones and postage stamps and these days, email.
So, Eric, you keep frying those chipolatas.
*I am not a customer of the council. They take money from me by force and spend it on stuff I don’t want. This is not a customer/supplier relationship. It is the relationship that exists between protection racketeers and their victims.