Catholic MP Maria Caulfield has expressed her “delight” that, for the first time in its history, the 2021 Census will include a question to provide information on whether someone has served in HM Armed Forces.
The move comes following by The Royal British Legion’s ‘Count Them In’ campaign, which was supported by veterans, charities, academic organisations, councils and MPs, including Ms Caulfield.
“Having a better understanding of the profile and needs of veterans is a key part of making sure our public services are tailored for our armed forces community and I welcome this historic change to the 2021 Census to include a question on the Armed Forces,” said Ms Caulfield.
“Having supported the Royal British Legion on this issue since I was
UK’s general population. However, despite this, there’s very first elected I am delighted with this success. Veterans like my husband will soon be more easily identifiable by public bodies and will be able to more easily access specialist support that they might need.”
The Royal British Legion, which is at the heart of a national network offering a range of support and services to the Armed Forces community, said estimates suggest that the Armed Forces community makes up approximately one in ten of the limited information about where they are or what their needs might be.
The decision to include a new Armed Forces question on the 2021 census will provide public bodies, local authorities and charities with considerable insight into this relatively hidden community.
It will allow for stepped up services for veterans, with better data and understanding allowing for more targeted and efficient support.
Data from the Census will also be an important part of ensuring that mental health support for former service personnel is as effective as possible.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said: “Allowing veterans to identify themselves in the next Census is a key step in ensuring that all of government provides the best support possible.
“Better information means better support and today is a positive step forward in providing that.”
Charles Byrne, director-general of The Royal British Legion, said: “This is an extremely proud moment for the Legion. After leading a successful campaign, the fact that a military question will be in the 2021 Census will significantly improve our understanding of the Armed Forces community which up until now has been very limited. It will ensure that we, along with other charities and service providers, can deliver the best service possible to them when and where it is needed most.
“This is something we have been striving towards for many years, it will have a huge impact on service personnel, veterans and their families well into the future, as the outcome will allow us to provide more effective care and support to those who are in need. We are delighted and are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported the campaign and helped us to achieve this historical success.”
To find out more about the Royal British Legion, see: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk
Picture: A Royal British legion armband. (John Walton/PA).