Leeds voluntary sector a big spender, says report

The community, voluntary and faith sector in Leeds spent more than £400m in 2005/06, according to research by local community empowerment network Leeds Voice.

The Ripple Effect, a report into the economic contribution of the sector in the city, found that the 324 respondent organisations spent just over £85m, which extrapolates into a figure of just under £430m for the city’s 2,000 voluntary groups. The report estimates the entire GDP of Leeds in the same period at between £9bn and 10bn.

The survey also estimates that the sector provides 22,000 jobs in the city, which is roughly the same number as the construction industry. Voluntary and community groups also make use of nearly 100,000 volunteers, adding up to an estimated wage-replacement value of nearly £65m.

Jane Daguerre, director of Leeds Voice, said the survey had been carried out after the chief executive of a private firm sitting on the local partnership board, Leeds Initiative, said the sector “doesn’t really contribute anything economically to the city”.

“Our public and especially private partners tend to think the sector is populated entirely by volunteers,” she said. “We wanted to show them that the sector is a serious contributor to the local economy and a serious contender for the commissioning of services.”

The survey also found that grants accounted for 36 per cent of VCSs, with contracts providing only 26 per cent. A quarter of funding was self-generated.

Organisations with incomes of between £10,000 and £500,000 experienced the greatest fluctuations in funding. Those with incomes of more than £500,000 were twice as likely to have seen their funding increase as those with lower incomes.

The full report will be launched on 18 January and will be available on Leeds Voice’s website from then. A summary of the report is attached to this article.

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