This week Jon Cruddas MP has backed calls to add a ‘Sikh tick box’ to the 2021 Census following the issue being raised by Preet Kaur Gill MP, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston. The call, which has been submitted to the Government Cabinet Office and the Office for National Statistics urges the Government to adopt similar regulations to those used in Scotland, which include a prompt for Sikh and Jewish next to the “Other ethnic group” box.
The Census Order 2020 which set out the parameters of the 2021 Census was made on 20th May 2020, and despite calls from the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs and the Sikh Federation (UK) failed to include an option for citizens to identify as Sikh.
In her initial letter to the Cabinet Office dated 10th June 2020 Preet Kaur Gill MP raised her concerns about the impact this omittance may have on the minority Sikh community stating: “I fear the Cabinet Office and Parliamentarians have collectively failed to find a solution to adequately accommodate the minority Sikh community in England in the Census so Sikhs can be treated fairly by public bodies in terms of provision of public services.”
As a Member of Parliament for a constituency with over 1000 Sikh residents, Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham was copied into the correspondence from his colleague.
Jon said: “I fully support the call from my colleague and the Sikh Federation (UK). The Government and ONS’ continued refusal to give Sikh citizens proper recognition on the Census, despite being legally recognised as a minority ethnic group beggars belief. This flies in the face of the Equality Act and could have serious social ramifications for many of my constituents.”
As part of the response from the Cabinet Office assurances were given that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was “committed to working with MPs and Sikh networks and organisations across the country, to ensure that anyone who wishes to identify as being of Sikh ethnicity in the 2021 Census knows how to do so.” They continued; “ONS will promote the write-in option in the Census ethnic group question, and the ability to self-identify as Sikh, through their marketing and communications campaigns.”
Jon Cruddas added: “the fact that the Sikh Federation (UK) have been tied up in an 18-month legal battle over this issue should have been enough to spur the Government into action. I will be contacting the Cabinet Office in the coming weeks on behalf of the Sikh community in Dagenham and Rainham.”