Thank you for contacting me about the 2021 Census.
Last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its view on topics proposed for inclusion in the 2021 Census, including a report on requirements for information on the armed forces community.
As you may know, at that time the ONS, which is an independent body, concluded that the user need for this topic was not strong enough to include it in the Census. Since then, the ONS has received more feedback on this decision, which has led it to establish a working group with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), to study the real need being highlighted and the best way to meet it.
I am encouraged that this group is meeting regularly to develop and progress three potential themes to best meet the information need. These themes are focussing on better articulating the user requirement for information on armed forces leavers; making better use of existing data to inform on the needs of armed forces leavers; and census question development.
I am aware that the ONS and MoD have met with the Royal British Legion and other groups, and the ONS has said that it will continue to engage with stakeholders as the work progresses. I will continue to monitor this issue carefully.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.