Why do you ask me questions about my gender, age, disability etc in surveys?

  • Why do you ask me questions about my gender, age, disability etc in surveys?

We appreciate that when you are completing a survey on the budget or waste and recycling services it may seem strange that we ask about your age, gender, race, or whether you have a disability.  You may feel that the questions are irrelevant or possibly intrusive.

The reason we ask these questions is very important and the results of these questions have made a big difference to decisions, proposals and how we engage with all people in Thanet. 

Why ask?

Age

Answers to our questions about age have shown that those in the 50+ age range actively engage in our consultations.  Responses from other age ranges are much lower and some do not respond at all, why is this?  Could it be that we need to use methods of communication that are more relevant to these age groups or explain the subject in a way that is more meaningful to them?

The risk of not acting on lack of responses from younger age groups now is that as generations mature they will  have less experience of engaging in local democracy or giving their views on how they want their services shaped and delivered and will be less likely to get involved as time goes on.

Our residents' involvement in our consultations is extremely important to us and we want to encourage people of all ages to give us their ideas and feedback on the services that matter to them; but we can only be sure we are getting it right if we ask your age in our consultations.

Gender, Disability and Ethnicity

A person's point of view will be influenced by many things i.e: their life experiences, background or challenges they may face day to day.  We ask about gender, disability and ethnicity because this can inform how you respond to a survey and highlight potential issues during the development of a new policy or service.

This feedback is important, for example:

If we were to engage with the community on a proposed new service and a large proportion of people with disabilities responded negatively we would be alerted to a potential access problem which we can explore further:

  • Did we explain the proposals in a clear way?
  • Is the negative feedback a potential access issue?  Can we design mitigating measures to help people access and benefit from the service, i.e reasonable adjustments for disability and what should they be?

In the same way as age, questions about gender, disability and ethnicity may indicate that particular groups are less likely to respond to consultations.  We don't want to miss this important feedback so we can adapt our approach to make sure everyone has the opportunity to shape the services that matter to them.

Your privacy is important to us

We understand that you may feel these questions are intrusive and highly personal.  The information you submit is voluntary but it really does make a difference.  In many surveys you are not asked for your name or address and cannot be identified from any answers you give.  Any information you give is subject to the Data Protection Act and is stored, used and securely destroyed in accordance with strict protocols.