Cornwall Council offers "unreserved apology" for form gaffe
CORNWALL Council has "apologised unreservedly" after issuing a form which used a single tick box for people to identify as Cornish, Gypsy or traveller.
The housing benefit and council tax benefit form had been issued to households across Cornwall.
In one section it invites applicants to indicate their ethnic identity with single boxes for White British and other nationalities. However the final tick box is for "Gypsy/Traveller/Cornish".
Cornwall Councillor Alex Folkes (Lib Dem) wrote on his blog: "Some people will suggest it is offensive. And they are right. Not because being likened to a gypsy or traveller is an insult. It isn't. But because the two backgrounds are so entirely different.
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"What Cornwall Council has done in designing this form is to create a 'bucket' category for anyone who doesn't appear to fit into 'normal' definitions. It's offensive to Cornish people and offensive to gypsies and travellers."
In a statement Cornwall Council said: "We would like to thank the individual who has pointed out the inappropriate wording on this form and apologise unreservedly for any offence this may have caused.
"The reason that we ask people to voluntarily give us this kind of information is to help us engage with all groups which make up our communities in Cornwall and ensure we provide them with the most appropriate services to meet their needs. We totally accept that the wording on this form is wrong. We are already in the process of updating the form as part of the welfare reform changes."
The council said it would be manually amending any other copies of the form which were still in circulation.
It added: "We are very proud of our culture and heritage and are committed to promoting the Cornish identity as well as celebrating the diverse cultures which make up our communities.
"Once again we would like to apologise for any offence; this was a genuine error which will now been rectified. A review of ethnic monitoring information will now take place to ensure we have a consistent approach across the organisation and to prevent errors occurring again in the future."