Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Religion worth £2 billion to the UK economy

Cranmer receives quite a lot of abusive emails, and occasionally those that speak of the ‘worthlessness’ of religion and how it should all be left to the era of witchcraft and goblins. Of course, they are not speaking directly of economic worthlessness, but most likely of a logical and reasonable worthlessness in an age of scientific rationalism.

Yet a report entitled Counting for Communities reveals the extensive contribution of faith community congregations (as opposed to para-congregation religious organisations) actually make, and demonstrates that religion is worth in excess of £2.1 billion to the UK economy. While Cranmer sees no need to justify God in terms of Mammon, this positive contribution does somewhat negate the blind assertions of ‘worthlessness’.

The report was commissioned by voluntary sector bodies working with the Welsh Assembly, who assessed the financial worth of faith communities in relation to welfare provision, youth work, marriage prepration, bereavement counselling, employment training, faith tourism, alcohol and drug awareness, personal finance and community building use. Faith communities are also strongly involved in local cultural and sporting activities – including music (choral singing tops the list), football, and exercise and fitness classes.

The faith communities are staffed by some 42,000 volunteers, and the total number of hours worked by these volunteers is estimated at just under 80,000 a week, equivalent to around 2,000 full-time workers.

All of this was calculated to contribute £102 million per annum to the Welsh economy. If this were projected for the UK as a whole, purely in terms of population, it may be asserted that faith community congregations are worth £2.1 billion. And this ignores the reality that some of the key religious centres of England and Scotland are worth rather more and are much better attended than many of those in Wales.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that this report ‘demonstrates just what an extensive and valuable role faith communities play in today’s society’. And Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan, in his foreword to the report, says that it ‘will surprise a good many both within the “faith sector” and more widely across the public and voluntary sectors through the sheer length and breadth of the faith communities’ contribution that it reveals’.

It comes as no surprise at all to learn that Christian faith communities in particular offer a vital range of services in thousands of communities, which complement and enhance the work of government. And doubtless they also do it a good deal better.

Cranmer is bemused that Government does not therefore liberate and devolve further – both for the good of their souls and the purse of the taxpayer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic, but in the latest Normblog "Writers Choice", Peter Hitchens endorses the Book of Common Prayer with these stirring words :

"And running through it all is the knowledge that almost all of this, especially its repeated calls for God's help in the struggle to be good, 'forasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee', was written or compiled by a rather bad man, Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII's highly political Archbishop of Canterbury. This is not the work of some unapproachable, impossible saint but of a married man, wily in worldly affairs and capable both of great cowardice and of astonishing courage."

15 April 2008 at 12:14  
Blogger The Black Fingernail said...

Is this financial benefit gross or net?

What about the costs to the UK economy *of* religion, particularly that caused by one particular 'community group'?

15 April 2008 at 12:59  
Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

I know if it weren't for the choral services at Kings and the Oxford foundations, I would not have come to the UK for 4 months out of the past three years. And, yes, I spent not a little coin.

15 April 2008 at 14:04  
Anonymous oiznop said...

I'm not sure why you're pussy-footing with the 'religion' tag.

You mean Christianity brings in a surplus of £2 billion, while the other faiths (especially political Islam) produce a deficit probably in excess of £2 billion, though that's a guess, and I've got no idea how I'd go about proving it.

15 April 2008 at 14:18  
Anonymous brotherjonathan said...

This humble congregant looks forward to the day when the state is so minimal that the public has an abundance of money and time to give to charitable causes.

15 April 2008 at 14:45  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mssrs Black Fingernail & Oiznop,

His Grace was quite specific: the £2 billion comes from 'faith community congregations (as opposed to para-congregation religious organisations)'.

The Islamist groups to whom you are doubtless referring would constitute 'para-mosque' organisations, and are therefore excluded from any cost/benefits analysis.

Brother Jonathan,


15 April 2008 at 15:01  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

The whole purpose of society lies in enabling its members to pursue their transcendent obligations ; particularly to truth, justice and charity.Society is of course also and ecnomic organisation .But the social achievements of acient Athens compared with those of say Stockport -which is about the same size as Athens was - cannot be measured by differences in the standard of living in two places.The advancement of well being therefore seems to not be the real purpose of society , but rather a secondary task given to it as an oppertunity to full fill its true aims in the spiritual field.
Such an interpretation of society would seem to call for an extension in the direction of god.

Michael Polanyi

15 April 2008 at 19:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bit of a red herring really as this is not generated wealth but mere spending akin to to the distribution of taxation, albeit voluntarily...

16 April 2008 at 21:49  

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