Census 2021 to include armed forces service

Following a long campaign by Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion, we’re delighted to announce that both the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament have now approved the content of the next Census in Great Britain, which will for the first time include a question on previous service in HM Armed Forces. The next Census is currently due to take place in 2021 in England and Wales and 2022 in Scotland.

There are an estimated 2.4m veterans living in Great Britain, who make up part of a wider ex-Service community that includes spouses, partners, dependent children and widow(er)s. Taken together, it estimated that the Armed Forces community makes up approximately one in ten of the UK’s general population. Yet despite this, comparatively little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group because of limited official data.

The decision to include a new Armed Forces question in the next Census will provide public bodies, local authorities and charities with considerable insight into this relatively hidden community and, most importantly, enable us to compare their outcomes with the wider population. From NHS planning for veteran specific care pathways, to helping local authorities identify and meet veterans’ housing needs – the new census question will ensure that, as a nation, we are better equipped to deliver the best services possible for our Armed Forces community, and target our resources more effectively.