London: Sikhs and Kashmiris are among new categories being considered for additional ethnicity tick-boxes on the 2021 census form by the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS).
“We are a long way off as there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to ensure that the census held every 10 years collects all the right information. Ethnicity is just one aspect of this research and Sikhs and Kashmiris are among a number of requests we received,” an ONS spokesperson said.
Sikhs are already recognised as a separate religion in the optional religious question introduced in the 2001 Census.
The UK’s Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 placed an obligatory and specific duty on the country’s public authorities to monitor and positively promote race equality in the provision of public services.
Sikh groups based in the UK have been campaigning for a separate category for British Sikhs for years and are hopeful that research launched this week to inform the census questionnaire will lead to such a change.
“If the Census 2021 ethnicity question does not include a Sikh tick box question, the impact from a service user perspective will continue to grow and result in Sikhs being invisible to those who develop policies and deliver public services,” Sikh Federation UK and Sikh Network said as part of their representations to the ONS.
“This will span across the inequalities observed by Sikhs in health, education, employment etc,” it said.
For Kashmiris, Manchester City Council expressed the view that adding such a category would help them benchmark their services for the community.
“Including Kashmiri in the Census will allow us to benchmark our practice and the outcomes of Manchester’s Kashmiri population with the rest of the UK,” the council said.
Gypsy, Jewish, Latin American, Somali and Turkish are among some of the other ethnicities that are being considered as part of a UK-wide survey of nearly 40,000 households which began yesterday. The results of the survey will be analysed and published later this year before a ‘Census White Paper’ is prepared for Parliament by 2018.