Volunteering by older people worth £48bn a year, research suggests

The total value of volunteering by people aged over 65 is estimated to be worth £48bn a year to the UK economy, research is suggesting.

This is the equivalent of 2% of UK’s gross domestic produce (GDP) and includes the value of work such as formal volunteering for charities and community groups.

The research also covers informal volunteering, such as unpaid work for people, as well as regular caring duties for friends and family.

The unpaid work carried out by councillors is also included in the data, which has been collected by economic analysis consultancy the Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR) for the Retirement Villages Group.

“In the public perception, retired people are often portrayed as adding only limited value to our economy,” said CEBR economist Pushpin Singh.

“This picture is biased and neglects the fact that retired people engage in a range of socially and economically valuable activities.

“However, these activities are often unpaid or otherwise informal, and therefore do not enter the calculations for economic output.

“The aim of this study is therefore to quantify the contribution of retired people to society.

“Our analysis shows that activities undergone by over 65s do indeed have significant weight to them, dispelling conventional beliefs while reinforcing the invaluable part over 65s play in building the communities we see today.” 

Earlier this month volunteering figures released through the government’s Community Life Survey found that formal volunteering rates fell.

However, the decrease was minimal among over 65s compared to younger people who give up their time. This found that the average number of volunteering hours by 25- to 24-year-olds halved during 2020/21. In comparison among 65- to 74-year-olds the decrease was only 3%.

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