In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from State of Life, have applied the latest 2021 HM Treasury Green Book supplementary guidance on wellbeing, including the WELLBY, to assess the health and wellbeing impact attributable to parkrun and its equivalent monetary value.
The results are astonishing, with a social return on investment (ROI) of £30 for every £1 spent which means that parkrun could be up to eight times more efficient at generating health and wellbeing outcomes than sport in general.
This would mean that in the UK parkrun generates at least £150 million in health and wellbeing impact each year (and this could be as much as four times higher).
The study also calculated the ROI using data from an independent survey of parkrun participants and volunteers undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University with an even more staggering result: a social ROI of £120 for every £1 spent.
This important study validates the parkrun event delivery model which is widely acclaimed in its ability to positively impact public health, at huge scale and low cost.
There is also some evidence, as with all sports, that the health and wellbeing benefits of participating in free, weekly parkruns in a local park are more beneficial for lower socio economic groups. This is especially relevant given the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda and Sport England’s stated objectives in its new strategy ‘Uniting the movement’.
parkrun’s ability to engage and positively impact all sectors of society, including those living in more deprived areas points to its importance in helping to address disparities.
Authors of the report, State of Life, said:
“We believe that the key reason why parkrun is so effective at delivering social value is not so much the benefits, which are significant but of a similar order to those of other widely practised sports we analysed in our previous work.
“It is rather the very low costs that make parkrun stand out – no club or membership fees, no participation fees, no facilities, kit or equipment required – parkrun is free for everyone.”
The new WELLBY-based cost-benefit analysis is a simpler measure of economic value that has recently gained traction in social value studies. It is based on a very simple and direct survey question – “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays? – 0 (not at all satisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied).” 1 WELLBY is equal to one person moving 1 point on this 10-point scale for one year as a result of the policy/programme.
In 2021 the WELLBY was endorsed by the UK Treasury in its HM Treasury Green Book supplementary guidance on wellbeing. The HM Treasury Green Book is the UK government’s handbook on policy appraisal i.e. the gold standard of UK policy evaluation. It states unequivocally that social value is based on the principles of welfare economics and includes all significant costs and benefits that affect the wellbeing of any member of the population, not just market effects.
You can read the full report here
The HM Treasury Supplementary guidance on wellbeing can be found here:
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