Cornwall Council supports The Royal British Legion’s campaign ‘Count them in’

At today’s full council, I submitted a motion that would lend Cornwall Council support to The Royal British Legion ‘Count them in’ campaign which calls the Government to include a new topic in the 2021 census. The motion is as:

This Council notes

  1. The obligations it owes to the Armed Forces community within Cornwall as enshrined in the Armed Forces Covenant; that the Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage in the provision of services and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most;
  2. The absence of the definitive and comprehensive statistics on the size or demographics of the Armed Forces community within Cornwall Council. This includes serving Regular and Reserve personnel, veterans and their families;
  3. That the availability of such data would greatly assist the Council, local partner agencies, the voluntary sector and national Government in the planning a provision of services to address the unique needs of the Armed Forces community within Cornwall Council.

In light of the above, this Council moves to support and promote The Royal British Legion’s call to include a new topic in the 2021 census that concerns military service and membership of the Armed Forces community. The motion further calls on the Government to approve the final census questionnaire through legislation in 2019.

Why is there need to have a question on the census? It is quite simple, the lack of clear data about the size and location of the Armed Forces community , including regular and reserve personnel, veterans and their families, makes it difficult for service providers to fully meet their needs.

The British Legion estimates that the Armed Forces community makes up around one in ten of the general population, with around 2.8m veterans living in the UK, along with 2.1m dependent adults, 1m dependent children and up to 290,000 “hidden” members of the ex serving community who are living in care homes etc.

Despite this large population however, the 2011 UK census only contained two questions related to the Armed Forces – one asking whether a member of the armed Forces usually lived at that address and the second whether the respondent usually lived at an Armed Forces base for over 30 days a year. This failed to collect detailed information on veterans or their dependents, and only provided limited information about reservists and dependents of those serving.

The Armed Forces Covenant, introduced by the Government, sets out how members of the Armed Forces and their families should be treated and yet we do not have the information to help achieve this. At Cornwall Council, we have updated our own version to reflect we need to do more.

I am pleased to say the vote was unanimous with no Councillor voting against this motion.

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