MP backing for ex-services drive to be included in Census

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THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION and Poppyscotland’s call for the armed forces community to be included as a topic in the next UK Census is being backed by Moray’s MP.

Douglas Ross this week gave his support after meeting representatives of the ex-service groups in Parliament.

He met with members of The Royal British Legion and David Tennant, a veteran, to discuss the campaign, Mr Ross saying: “Members of the Armed Forces community make huge sacrifices in the service of our country.

“In Moray, we have a long and very proud link to the military with the RAF base at Lossiemouth, and 39 Engineer Regiment based at Kinloss. Moray’s long tradition of people joining the services means we still have active branches of the Royal British Legion in all our towns.

“I enjoyed meeting with David and staff from the Royal British Legion at Parliament and hearing more about their Count Them In campaign.”

It has been estimated that there are currently between 6.5 million and 6.7 million members of the Armed Forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population.

Mr Ross added: “Little is known, however, about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group. Inclusion of this topic in the next census in 2021 would provide public bodies, local authorities, and charities with valuable information to ensure they can deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community.

“It cannot be right that our servicemen and women, veterans and their families are effectively hidden from official statistics, and that’s why I’m backing the call for new questions to be added to the next UK Census. We count on them – let’s count them in.”

Poppyscotland chief executive Mark Bibbey commented: “We are encouraged by the positive response we have received from both the UK and Scottish Governments for our Count Them In campaign, which has received on-the-record support from the majority of Scottish MPs to date.

“It is important to know where members of our Armed Forces community in Scotland live, and the issues they face, in order to tailor our services accordingly. We await with interest the confirmation of the final questions that will appear in the 2021 Census.”

Charles Byrne, Director-General of The Royal British Legion, added: “As a nation we promise to provide lifelong care and support for those who serve our country.

“By including the Armed Forces community in the 2021 Census, we can help public bodies and charities deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community, when and where it is needed most. We thank Douglas for adding his support to our campaign: together I’m confident that we can make the next census count for our Armed Forces community.”