COMMUNITY organisations, such as churches, charities, and
heritage sites, will put £27.5 billion into the UK economy this
year - up by £1 billion on 2012 - the Community Census Report suggests.
The figure is equivalent to 1.7 per cent of the country's total
Gross Domestic Product, and demonstrates the vital part the sector
plays in the British economy.
The report, prepared between March and May for the specialist
insurers Ecclesiastical, by the Centre for Economics and Business
Research, found that much of the increase was attributable to young
people, with those aged 18 to 34 the most active age-group in their
communities. One in five of them - about three million people -
attended or supported at least one of their local charities,
religious groups, or heritage properties, a greater proportion than
any other generation.
More than one third said that they planned to increase their
involvement: specifically, eight per cent said that they would do
so with religious organisations.
This year, community organisations will employ as many people -
about 1.15 million - as the financial-services industry, and will
pay more in employment costs, such as wages, salaries, benefits,
and pensions, than the hotel and food-services sector.
The survey also reported that more than half of the adults (57
per cent) believe that their local religious organisations are an
important aspect of their community: 16 per cent attend regularly,
and 11 per cent go at least once a week.
The chief executive office of the Ecclesiastical Group, Mark
Hews, said: "The projected growth this year . . . is a sign of the
role these organisations play - not just in monetary terms, but
what they actually provide communities across the country.
Religious organisations clearly play an particularly important role
within communities as well.
"It also seems that younger people generally, and not older - as
many may imagine - are the most involved in community
organisations. Official statistics for younger age-groups often
focus on those who are not in employment, education, or training.
However, perhaps this particular angle misses a more positive
aspect of young Britons' lives - how involved they are with their