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Outrage at council's latest survey

PUBLISHED: 15:13 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:33 11 August 2010

FAMILIES are outraged after being questioned about deeply private matters such as their sexuality and faith. It follows council tenants receiving a probing questionnaire from housing services which was not meant to be too personal. It included questions

FAMILIES are outraged after being questioned about deeply private matters such as their sexuality and faith.

It follows council tenants receiving a probing questionnaire from housing services which was 'not meant to be too personal.'

It included questions on whether they were gay or straight, bisexual, transgender, and asked for details of their religious and ethnic backgrounds.

A covering letter outlined the fact that housing officers needed to collect this information so they could review and better plan their services.

Now divisional director, Stephen Clarke, has reassured tenants that the forms are designed to check that services do not discriminate against customers due to age, disability, ethnic background, religion or sexuality.

It also offers them the chance to win £500, £100 or £50 - each fully completed questionnaire is entered in a prize draw.

But some families are angry about this way of gleaning information.

Many believe that housing services should not treat any group unfairly, and that they do not need a questionnaire to do that.

Gillian Ratty, of Osborne Square, said: "I find this very intrusive into my private life.

"Why do they need to know what sexuality I am?

"They also ask about faith which I think is personal.

"I refuse to fill in this form as it is a waste of time and taxpayers' money."

The forms also ask if tenants are, or have ever been identified as transgender, and what ethnicity they are - Black, White, Asian, Mixed Race, Chinese, Traveller or Other.

Another Dagenham resident who did not want to be named, described the questionnaire as 'very humiliating.'

She said: "The supposed purpose of this form is to serve the needs of tenants who need maintenance and repairs. What difference does it make what sexuality you are?"

A council spokesman said: "Along with all other local authorities and housing associations, we are required by the Audit Commission to ask tenants to provide this information.

"This will enable us to review the way we plan, improve, and deliver our services.

"Some customers may find some questions intrusive, but by knowing about issues such as a person's disability, sexuality, religious requirements and cultural background, our resources can be prioritised, and subsequently services can be adapted appropriately.

"All information is treated in confidence, and complies fully with the Data Protection Act.


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