Background

Information about the armed forces community has not previously been collected in the census, except in relation to the occupation of those currently serving. Following feedback from the Census 2021 topic consultation, we committed to investigating the feasibility of linking administrative sources on those who have left the armed forces to data from the 2011 Census, to produce the outputs required by users.

Our understanding of the user need for information on those who have previously served in the UK Armed Forces and their dependents has grown since then. As such, we explored three strands of research: further developing our understanding of user need, exploring alternative sources that could meet the user need, and developing and testing a potential question for Census 2021. This research has concluded, and we have recommended inclusion of this topic in Census 2021.

Further question development and testing informed the recommendations in the government White Paper Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales (PDF 886KB), published in December 2018.

News and reports

26 June 2020, Armed Forces Community (veterans) – Census 2021 question development report.

This report provides information on our research on the armed forces community topic for the 2021 Census.

19 October 2017, Update on meeting information needs on the armed forces community (veterans)

This note provides an update on our research on the armed forces community topic for the 2021 Census.

June 2017, Update on meeting information needs on the armed forces community (veterans)

This note provides an update on our research on the armed forces community topic for the 2021 Census.

27 February 2017, Updated news on requirements for information on the armed forces

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have been working together to meet user needs for data about people who have served in the UK armed forces and their dependents. On 8 November 2016, we held a workshop to better understand the user need for the data. Since then, we’ve met regularly to find the best way to meet that need. This report provides an update on progress towards meeting user needs for data on the armed forces community.

9 January 2017, Armed forces workshop: summary of discussions

The ONS and the MoD held a joint workshop on 8 November 2016 with important stakeholders from across government, local government and the charitable sector. This workshop was to further understand their information needs for the armed forces community in England and Wales. We concluded that users need to know the numbers and location of persons who are serving, or who have served, in the UK armed forces. This is so they can commission and deliver appropriate services to meet the needs of this community and monitor their effectiveness.