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Highland MSP welcomes census change to 'count armed forces in' in support of Poppyscotland and Royal British Legion campaign

By Gregor White

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MSP Rhoda Grant.
MSP Rhoda Grant.

A question on service in the armed forces will be included in the census for the first time.

It follows a campaign led by Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion and supported by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.

The decision to include the question in the 2021 census will provide Poppyscotland, as well as public bodies, local authorities, and other military charities, with valuable information to ensure they can best meet the needs of serving personnel, veterans and their families.

It has been estimated that there are 2.4 million veterans currently living in Britain, making up part of a wider ex-service community which includes spouses, partners, dependent children and widow/ers though little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this group.

Mrs Grant said: "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.

"I welcome this historic change to the 2021 Census to include a question on the armed forces.

"This is a huge step forward and will help us better understand and support our veterans and wider armed forces community across the Highlands and Islands going forward."

Mark Collins, interim chief executive of Poppyscotland, said: "We would like to thank the scores of politicians from across the spectrum at Holyrood and Westminster, several local authorities and our volunteers and supporters who came together to support our Count Them In campaign.

"I am also extremely grateful to National Records of Scotland for their engaging approach, working closely with us throughout the process from devising potential questions through to testing and considering the outputs.

"This is an extremely proud moment for Poppyscotland.

"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."

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