Skip To Content

Census 2021: UK Armed Forces Veterans

UK Armed Forces Veterans from the 2021 Census

The 2021 Census was the first Census to include questions around whether individuals had previously served in the armed forces.

‘People aged 16 years and over were asked whether they had previously served in the regular or reserve UK armed forces, or both. People currently serving in the UK armed forces and those who had never served were both advised to tick “no”.
People who have previously served in the regular or reserve UK armed forces are often known as the veteran population and form part of the armed forces community (along with those who currently serve in the armed forces or Merchant Navy and their families). The question on UK armed forces veterans was added to better meet the needs for service providers and others who support veterans, in line with the Armed Forces Covenant.’

The raw data from this Census release has been processed by the Population Insight Team and is also available on Surrey-i.

At the time of the 2021 Census, there were 32,596 residents of Surrey who had previously served in the armed forces which represented 3.4 percent of the Surrey population aged 16 and over. Around every 1 in 40 Surrey residents aged 16 or over were veterans of the regular UK armed forces (2.4%, representing 23,769 persons).

The percentage of the Surrey population aged 16 and over who had previously served in the UK armed forces, 2021

A bar chart showing that 2.4% of those aged 16 and over in Surrey were veterans of the regular UK armed forced, 0.8% of the reserve, and 0.1% of the regular and reserve.

Just under three quarters of UK armed forces veterans residing in Surrey had previously served in the regular armed forces only (23,769, 72.9%), while 7,404 (22.7%) had served only in the reserve armed forces. The remaining 1,423 (4.4%) had served in both the regular and the reserve armed forces.

Of the UK armed forces veteran population in Surrey, 96.5 per cent lived in households and 3.5 per cent lived in communal establishments. A higher percentage of Surrey veterans lived in communal establishments on Census Day than veterans in the whole of England (2.0%). The veteran population also had a much higher percentage who lived in communal establishments than the overall Surrey population (including non-veterans) at 2.3 per cent, whilst England had similar proportions for the veteran and the overall population.

The percentage of veterans living in households or communal establishments compared to the whole population, 2021

A bar chart comparing the percentage of veterans in communal establishments compared to all residents of Surrey.

In total, 30,509 households in Surrey had at least one person who had previously served in the UK armed forces on the 2021 Census Day (6.3% of all households). Of these households, 97.0 per cent included only one veteran (29,592), 2.9 per cent included two veterans (900), and less than 0.1 per cent included 3 or more veterans (17 households).