Volunteering in England and Wales is worth £324bn a year, new research has concluded.
A paper published by Works4U, a social enterprise that helps businesses support communities through volunteering, estimates that this equates to almost 15 per cent of UK gross domestic product.
The research has found that the total monetary value of charity trustees in England and Wales is equivalent to almost £33.2bn a year.
The report recommends the government set up a dedicated department for volunteering and the voluntary and community sector.
It says the department’s activities could include working with VCS organisations to “gather latest intelligence to understand current and future challenges in order to help address them”.
The report calculates the value of trustees by assuming a chair would be worth £60,000 a year, with other trustee roles worth less.
It says UK gross domestic product was £2.2tn in 2022, meaning the “indicative value of all volunteering in England and Wales contributes the equivalent of a staggering 14.5 per cent of UK GDP”.
The report concedes there are “significant margins for error in these estimations” but says that even if the total monetary value of trustees is considered to be as high as 20 per cent of all volunteering, which it says seems unlikely, it would still be the equivalent of 7.7 per cent of GDP.
The report notes that the calculations do not include the monetary value of volunteering in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Report author Dominic Pinkney, who runs two volunteer infrastructure charities in London, said: “There is a general perception across the country that volunteering is a good and positive thing in the UK, but with the absence of economic data about its importance, decision-makers are mostly in the dark about whether to support its development.
“In terms of its value to the UK economy, volunteering can often be seen as the cherry which sits on the icing on top of the cake.
“The reality is that volunteering is so embedded and fundamental in UK life that it is not the cherry – it is an essential ingredient of the cake.”