Download this report


City Year UK brings together young people from diverse backgrounds to serve for a year in disadvantaged communities as tutors, mentors and role models for at-risk pupils. First established in Boston, Massachusetts in 1988, City Year UK launched in London in 2010 and has since expanded to the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. The charity approached Pro Bono Economics to assess the economic case for expanding full-time volunteering in the UK, intended to inform the UK Government’s independent review.


PBE Economic Associates and a statistician volunteer from the Royal Statistics Society set out to quantify the potential annual net benefits of a full-time volunteer service for young people, based on assumptions concerning the operating costs related to a 10,000-volunteer scheme, and the benefits to the volunteer and organisation they are placed with. The report looks at international schemes to make comparisons, ascertains the economic value of full-time volunteering and outlines the illustrative costs of such a scheme to government.


The analysis shows that a 10,000-volunteer scheme may result in an annual total net benefit of between £119 and £28 million to the UK economy, a benefit cost ratio of 1.6:1.2.  As such, each £1 spent on the programme could reap between £1.20 and £1.60 in benefits, based on benefits to both the volunteer and their host organisation. 


Moving forward, City Year UK can use this report as evidence of the value of their work, and embed it into their long-term plans to make a year of volunteering an integral part of life for young citizens of the UK. The report can be used to play a key role in the charity’s overall aim – to create a ‘voluntary national service’ legal status for full-time volunteers, and scale up the level of volunteering in the UK to match that of France, Germany, Italy or the USA.  

James Probert, former Director of Strategy at City Year UK:

“Our work with Pro Bono Economics will play a key role in creating 'voluntary national service' status…this isn’t a one or two-year gain – Britain needs this, and we will need it in 2022 as well.”