One of the welcome aspects of the demise of the Audit Commission was the scrapping of the requirement for councils to ask intrusive, irrelevant questions about our sex lives. The Government has confirmed to councils that there is no longer any excuse to carry out this offensive exercise.
Soon after we took control of Hammersmoth and Fulham Council a resident in my ward emailed to say:
Speaking as someone who often makes Planning applications to Hammersmith on behalf of clients, I very much resent being interrogated about my age, race, religion and sexual orientation on each occasion. None of these matters is the business of the Local Authority, and none has the slightest bearing on a planning application.
The questions about sexual orientation in particular are quite ludicrous. I am repeatedly asked whether I am heterosexual, gay/lesbian, transsexual, or “Other – please state”. I cannot think what that “other” could be, unless it were so perverse that it would justify putting someone behind bars. And who on earth would voluntarily admit to such proclivities on a planning application?
A council tenant complaining about the lift not working asked why we spent such a lot of time asking him about his religion. We shortened our forms to get rid of such questions.
Anyway all this nonsense should have ended. But some councils are still spending money on it. Furthermore, the Local Government Association are telling them to do so. Read their recent “Social Housing Equality Framework Self-assessment guidance” and weep. The "protected characteristics" it is concerned with include religion and sexual orientation.
It says councils should spend their time ensuring the following matters are addressed
• Have we drawn up an action plan to collect customer profiling data?
• Does this cover leaseholders and other service users as well as residents?
• Have we set up systems to store customer profiling data safely and securely?
• Are we clear how we will use the customer profiling data once it has
• Is there a programme in place to brief staff and customers on why we need to collect this information, how it will stored and how it will be used to provide customers with appropriate services?
• Are protocols in place with partners and contractors to share and use equality related data?
• Have we collected information for at least 60% of our residents about their protected characteristics, communication and other relevant needs to provide them with appropriate services?
• Does this figure cover leaseholders and other service users as well
• Have we plans in place to collect the remaining customer profiling data?
• Have we begun to use the customer profiling data collected to tailor our services better to the needs of our service users?
• Have we begun to use the customer profiling data when conducting an equality analysis?
• Are we regularly sharing customer profiling data with our partners and contractors?
• Have we collected logged and are regularly using information for at least 90% of our residents about their protected characteristics, communication and other relevant needs to provide them with appropriate services?
• Do we have in place systems to keep this data up to date?
• Do we review our equality aims, objectives and outcomes at least every three years to take account of significant changes in the communities we serve?
• Do these reviews also include our main partners and contractors?
So councils pay a membership sub to the LGA for this rubbish to be churned out. What a terrible waste of money even before any council has taken notice of it.