VCSE sector's contribution to economy "undervalued"

4 May, 2020

Pro Bono Economics (PBE) has published a new report that explores the VCSE sector’s contribution to the UK’s economy.

Undervalued and Overlooked? The Need for Better Understanding of Civil Society’s Contribution to the UK Economy finds that the sector could be undervalued by up to £200 billion – this is compared to the official estimate of £17 billion.

The official figure is worked out as a share of the sector’s financial contribution to the economy in financial terms.

The report suggests that the large discrepancy is due to the fact that this calculation does not take into account unpaid volunteers, nor does it consider the value of informal volunteering; it also fails to take into account the ‘spillover’ fiscal benefits of charitable and voluntary activity or of the sector’s activity.

The report recommends that the way the sector’s contribution to economy is calculated should be reviewed.

The report also finds that the sector itself needs to do more to capture and communicate its value by surveying clients, staff and volunteers and monitoring the impact of its activities.

Matt Whittaker, chief executive of Pro Bono Economics and co-author of the report, said:

“The rescue package announced for the charity sector is large and is welcome. But it falls well short of the level of need in the sector. This under-resourcing is in large part a product of the chronic undervaluation of the contribution made by civil society to the UK economy: an undervaluation which has resulted in policy neglect over a number of years. 

“The government needs to revisit the adequacy of its rescue package as a matter of urgency. Our weekly tracker highlights the very considerable pressures being endured by charities across the country. Vital activity has already been scaled back, and there is the very real danger that some services and support will be withdrawn altogether over the coming months. 

“Alongside rising to today’s very visible funding challenges, it’s important that we do more to better understand the all-too-often invisible value of civil society. It is only by doing so that we can ensure that the sector gets the recognition – and therefore the policy attention – that it deserves.”