Is this a practice run for the Census? Not according to Wiltshire Council who says the results will 'help in planning how much affordable housing is needed in the county'. The questions on sexual orientation are "required by legislation".
The document, which asks questions about resident's sexuality, debt levels and qualifications, has been sent out to 26.500 households.
The council said responses will be anonymous, but campaign group Privacy International has advised people not to fill out the form at all. PI's Alexander Hanff told the BBC:
"Questions about sexual orientation [and] how much money you have in the bank are highly personal questions.
"I would say that, whereas there may not be any legal issue here, it certainly goes against a number of principles of the Data Protection Act, such as only collecting as much data as you need for a specific purpose.
"They're asking for far too much data with far too much variants and this is an issue, and a concern, from a privacy perspective."
Strangely, the council's service director for economy and enterprise said,"all this stuff is actually getting cleansed before we get the data". Data cleansing usually involves verifying collected information and discarding date that was out of date, but it's unclear what is being done to the surveys. The council hopes to receive at least 6,000 completed surveys.
Many years ago I lived in Wiltshire for about a year and I still have close friends who live in Salisbury. They were absolutely furious when they received this survey and since then, along with a few dozen neighbours and friends, then have spent all their free time ensuring people know that there is no legal obligation for anyone to complete and return the document.
They have also written to many, including the council's chief executive and Eric Pickles, to complain not only about the content, but the waste of taxpayers' money. One startling fact they discovered was that at least 2,000 of these surveys had already been completed and returned.
Are we so brainwashed by the Big Brother society Labour inflicted upon us not to question people who ask for personal information? I suspect those who did complete the survey thought it was a necessity as it was sent by the local authority and included their logo. Surely this must be classed as information theft.
Update: Yesterday my friends had a response from Eric Pickles' office who have said they will investigate the matter. That's possibly as much as they can hope for, but it would be beneficial if Eric Pickles himself publicly reprimanded Wiltshire council for demanding information, which had no relevance in determining the amount of social housing required in the area.
The way to calculate social housing needs is by the number of current applications and assessment of current housing stock. The reasons for this survey are ominous.