The North East voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector is worth £1.65bn to the region, rising to £5.86bn if you include ‘added value’ says the latest Third Sector Trends report from the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and Durham University.
The value is delivered by 6,900 organisations across the North East. Collectively they employ 37,300 people, the same as the finance, agriculture and utilities sectors combined. The workforce is supplemented by 152,100 volunteers willing to give their time to help thousands across our region. The combined value of their time if charged at the current national living wage rate is £104million.
These headline figures come from the first of four reports that make up Third Sector Trends 2022 which having started in the North East now covers the whole of England and Wales for the first time. Follow up reports will go into further details on employees and volunteers, income, relationships and the value to our localities.
Reflecting on the figures, Rob Williamson Chief Executive of the Community Foundation said:
“This first report clearly shows the importance of the VCSE sector in terms of size and employment in the North East. We already know the sector is the glue that holds society together by providing help and support to many in need but at a basic level it employs and pays tens of thousands of people and puts millions into the local economy. Without it we would be poorer in so many ways.”
“The vital role the sector pays is why we at the Community Foundation have set up a cost-of-living fund to support organisations which may be struggling with the double whammy of increasing demand and increasing costs.”
The report’s author, Professor Tony Chapman, St Chad’s College, Durham University said:
“Where the added value generated by the voluntary sector ‘lands’ is hard to predict. This is because the impact of charities’ work isn’t always immediate. A real strength of the sector is its ability to accumulate energy and value which is produced collectively by many charities.
Keeping things ticking over in civil society often nips problems in the bud before they become critical needs. Without that support, individual needs are undermined and the strength of community ties can fray. And in times of local or national crisis, such as in the Coronavirus pandemic or the current cost-of-living challenge, the latent power of the sector can be released to tackle problems quickly and vigorously.’ The value of the sector has also been acknowledged by the region’s business networks.
Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director of the CBI said:
“Where both the private and voluntary sectors come together, both sides stand to benefit in spades. This report shows the huge value of the voluntary sector to the North East and the vital role it plays at the heart of local communities. Ultimately the deeper and more committed the partnership between businesses and the social sector, the greater the benefits for the region.”
Rhiannon Bearne, director of policy and representation, North East England Chamber of Commerce said:
“Once again this important study shows how and why economic and social impact go hand-in-hand. In the North East charities don’t just offer vital services and support for our communities: they contribute a massive £1.6bn in value, creating good jobs and helping create a strong economy. With a difficult winter ahead of us all the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland’s new cost of living fund will make a real difference to this vital part of our region’s economy.”
You can read the report and all previous Third Sector Trends research on the Community Foundation website here.