The Cornish could be recognised in the 2021 UK census if the latest efforts by Cornwall Council are successful.

Last week the council's deputy leader Julian German, Cornwall councillors and council officers met with senior officers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in Truro to discuss the inclusion of tick boxes for the Cornish and Cornish language on the census.

The discussions come after the Council of Europe told the ONS it should “take the necessary measures to include the possibility to self-identify as Cornish, through a tick-box in the next census.”

That recommendation was made in the Fourth Opinion to the UK Government on the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, issued in March, and reflects the fact that in the 2011 census the Cornish did not have a tick-box option like the Welsh, Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish, and could only write Cornish under the ‘other’ option.

Mr German said the meeting was an important milestone. He said: “Cornish people have a proud and distinct identity. We are proud of our history and language and want this to be reflected in the way the census captures data so it’s not an ‘other’ field in the language and identity section.

“We believe this will provide a more accurate reflection of the number of Cornish in Cornwall and across the UK.

“An accurate count of Cornish language speakers is a key factor in influencing funding and devolution – this is key to helping us get a better deal and more funding for Cornish people and culture,” the Deputy Leader said.

Although no commitment has been made from the ONS on the inclusion of the Cornish as a tick-box option, it reaffirmed its commitment to support ethnic groups across the UK.

Ben Humberstone, programme director for the 2021 census at the ONS, said: “Our meeting identified some really helpful points in the development and operation of the next census where ONS and Cornwall Council can work together to have a successful census in 2021.”

The meeting is the latest push to gain more recognition for the Cornish and comes three years after the UK Government gave Cornish the same status as other Celtic communities the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

According to the 2011 census, out of 532,273 residents of Cornwall, 73,220 identified as Cornish and there were 557 Cornish speakers in England and Wales, with 464 living in the county.

In 2016, the government cut the £150,000 a year that Cornwall had received in support of the Cornish language since it was recognised under the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in 2003, and instead announced a one-off payment of £100,000 over two years for Cornish culture and heritage. The council believes accurate data on Cornish in the census could support future bids for Cornish language funding.

It is worth noting that recognition of Cornish minority status by the UK government is not affected by Brexit, while the Council of Europe is a standalone institution which predates the European Union, having been set up in 1949 to promote democracy and protect human rights.