Britain's decennial census, taking place (other than Scotland) next month, will for the first time ask people if they are a veteran of the armed forces.
The Census for England and Wales is run by the Office for National Statistics, and has been held every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941. The survey in Northern Ireland is separately administered but will take place at the same time, while Scotland took the decision to defer its own Census until 2022 due to Covid.
The new question - which will define a veteran as anyone who has served in the country's forces for a day or more - will support commitments made by central and local government under legislation known as the Armed Forces Covenant, helping the government, NHS and service charity sectors target resources and expertise where they are needed most.
The new question is in part the result of a campaign for veteran's association the Royal British Legion, whose Director General Charles Byrne comments: 'The inclusion of a military question within the Census ... will significantly improve our understanding of the Armed Forces community which up until now has been limited. This is something we have been striving towards for many years. The RBL believes as many as 1 in 10 people in the UK are members of the Armed Forces Community but there is currently very little definitive information about where they are located or what their needs may be. This question will have a huge impact on service personnel, veterans and their families well into the future as 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'.
Iain Bell, Deputy National Statistician at the ONS, comments: 'A successful census will ensure everyone from local government to charities can put services and funding in the places where they are most needed'. The 2021 survey will be the first run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code in March, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on PCs, 'phones or tablets. Paper questionnaires will also be available on request. Results will be available within 12 months.
Web site: www.census.gov.uk .
All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.