Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd Candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire Cllr William Powell has today written to the Minister for the Census, Chloe Smith MP calling for her to postpone Census 2021, on the grounds that it poses a significant risk to the wider population.
“This weekend Chloe Smith MP informed political parties that leafleting by volunteers was incompatible with English lock down measures to reduce Covid-19 spread. Yet the far more intrusive Census 2021 operations are still set to go ahead. I am urging the Minister to delay the process until it is safe to proceed.”
Census day itself is the 21st March and will be a largely online exercise but this is followed up by staff going door to door to help members of the public who haven't completed the form. This is likely to involve up to an hour sitting with a potentially vulnerable person.“
ONS are currently recruiting over 26,000 people for the task. With everything focussed on online, they are likely be talking to many older residents without internet access. As this is the most vulnerable section of the community with many still awaiting a 2nd dose of the vaccine at the time, this represents a very serious health risk.” added Cllr Powell.
“The Minister needs to be consistent. If political campaigning is a health risk then the Census must also be delayed, as it involves far closer contact. Otherwise her action looks like an attempt to gain an unfair advantage for those who can 'buy' an election, as paid delivery is still permitted.
"The public health challenge associated with Covid-19 is unprecedented. Having had my own intense experience of the virus last spring, I know that Covid is relentless and without mercy. It is vital that we do whatever it takes to maintain the integrity of lockdown and to bear down on the virus. To avoid giving the impression of political expediency, it is imperative that the UK Government levels with the public - and adopts a consistent approach, which puts public health above all other considerations."
Copy of Letter