Wales politics

Census row: Major survey to be changed over Welsh ethnicity question

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Media captionKizzy Crawford: "I haven't seen anything that represents me... I consider myself to be Welsh"

Welsh ministers say they will change their national survey to address an issue around the question on ethnicity.

It follows criticism respondents to the 2021 census would only be able to tick a box that includes Welsh as their ethnic background if they are white.

On Tuesday, the finance minister said she raised concerns with the Office for National Statistics about the census.

It later emerged the Welsh Government's own survey offers people the same options when asked about ethnicity.

According to the draft 2021 census all respondents will be able to tick a box marking their national identity as Welsh.

However, when responding to a question about ethnicity, only white people will be provided with a box to tick that includes Welsh.

People from other ethnic backgrounds wanting to give their ethnicity as Welsh would have to write that in a separate space.

Image copyright ONS
Image caption The questions over ethnicity are in the draft version of the 2021 census

The options provided have drawn criticism from campaigners including the Merthyr-born singer Kizzy Crawford who has Caribbean and Welsh heritage.

Responding to a question on the issue in the Senedd on Tuesday, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans told assembly members: "Welsh Government agrees completely that the ethnicity question at present isn't inclusive of all of those members of society who consider themselves to be Welsh but aren't white.

"I can confirm that Welsh Government officials have been raising this directly with the ONS [Office for National Statistics] for quite some time, and I have written recently to the minister for the constitution on this matter to more formally raise Welsh Government's concerns."

However it later emerged that the ethnicity question in the Welsh Government's own annual national survey - which is also carried out by the ONS - is worded in the same way as the census.

The National Survey for Wales is completed by 12,000 people across Wales every year and includes questions about health, education and identity.

Image copyright National Assembly for Wales
Image caption Rebecca Evans said she had formally raised concerns about the census ethnicity question

A government spokeswoman said: "We have repeatedly raised our concerns with ONS for a number of years.

"Most recently, the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd (business manager) raised this matter in a letter to the Minister for Constitution in November.

"We have already planned to amend the question on the National Survey for Wales in future to address this issue."

The change is expected to be made in time for the 2020-21 National Survey.

Responding to criticism of the census, an ONS spokeswoman said: "Everyone who wants to identify as Welsh can do so through their national identity and their ethnicity.

"The census questionnaires are designed to ensure people have the options to do this.

"We've engaged widely with users in Wales and are proposing that anyone wishing to identify as Welsh and another category (including Asian or Asian British and black, black British, Caribbean or African) will be able to do so by completing one of the write-in options."

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