The nature of the voluntary sector’s finances and the available data make it difficult to quantify the sector’s value to the wider economy. The sector’s contribution can be measured in terms of its spending, the people it employs or the contribution that volunteers make.
|Method for calculating voluntary sector GVA||
|Expenditure on goods and services||
|Income from sales of goods and services||
|Total GVA estimate||
- In 2013/14 we estimate that the voluntary sector contributed £12.2bn to the UK economy, around 0.7% of total GDP.
- For context, the GVA of the voluntary sector (£12.2bn) is comparable to the nominal GDP of the country Iceland in 2014 ($17.0bn).
- The proportion of GVA that the voluntary sector contributed to the UK economy in 2013/14 (0.7%), is comparable to the GVA of the agricultural sector in 2014 (£8bn, or 0.6%).
- As a proportion of UK GDP, voluntary sector GVA has remained relatively consistent with time, averaging between 0.7% and 0.9%. It reached a peak in 2008/09 and a low in 2012/13, but has increased slightly in the last year.
- 827,000 people were employed in the voluntary sector in the UK in June 2015, equivalent to 2.7% of the UK workforce.
- For comparison, the NHS is the single largest employer in the UK, with around 1.3 million employees and Tesco is the largest private sector employer with around 310,000 employees in the UK.
- There were around 15 million regular formal volunteers in 2012/13 and their contribution to the UK economy was estimated to be £23.9bn, or 1.5% of total GDP, by the ONS.
- However, it is difficult to estimate the economic value of the sector’s volunteers; this NCVO blog explores efforts to estimate the value of volunteering in more detail.