How valuable is the Met Office?

The Latest Public Weather Service Value for Money Review - March 2015

The latest review concludes with high confidence that the benefits of the Public weather Service (PWS) are:

  • very likely to exceed £1bn per annum and
  • likely to be close to £1.5bn per annum

These and other papers referenced in the report were used to access the economic value of weather forecasts to the following sectors.

  • Public
  • Aviation
  • Civil Contingency
  • Land Transport
  • Flood Damage Avoidance
  • Storm Damage Avoidance
  • Added Value to the Economy

This report is consistent with the findings of previous value for money to study and based on a number of sources:

  • Met Office — The Public Weather Service's contribution to the UK economy 2007 PWSCG commissioned report (PDF, 4 MB)  from PA Consulting in 2007
  • Cost benefit analysis prepared by EUMETSAT for its Member States for the next generation polar satellite programme
  • Met Office commissioned study by Helios on the economic benefit of weather services to the aviation sector
  • Internal Met Office paper considering the reduction in flood damage costs resulting from improved weather forecasts

The Purpose of the PWS

  • The purpose of the PWS is to help protect lives, property and infrastructure from weather impacts, and to contribute to UK economic growth through the effective use of weather information.

All weather services in the UK are dependent on the PWS's investment in the National Capability, which in turn is dependent upon the International Infrastructure of global exchange of data and weather satellites.

Value to the economy by sector

Sector

Value (per annum)

Public£480m
Aviation£400m
Land Transport£100m
Flood damage avoidance£64m
Storm damage avoidance£80m
Added value to the Economy£400m

The sum of the benefits itemised above is approximately £1.5bn per annum

We can state with very high confidence that the economic benefits of the PWS to the UK are in excess of £1bn per annum. The benefits attributable to the PWS are more likely to be around £1.5bn, and for weather services as a whole the benefits are likely to exceed £2bn.

Lives saved

Overall, it is difficult to quantify an average annual figure for the number of lives which are saved as a result of weather forecasts and warnings. However, modern forecast accuracy, dissemination of warnings and resulting mitigating action may be saving many tens of lives each year from direct impacts of the weather. For extreme events, such as North Sea coastal flooding, hundreds of lives are potentially being saved. Also, excess deaths from heatwaves may be reduced by about 40 per event due to heat-health warnings. In any event, there is no doubt that the PWS saves lives, and to some users and stakeholders that is of greater value that the economic benefits described in the sections above.

Overall cost of PWS

The total price for the PWS outlined in the CSA for 2014/15 is £119.7m. This is funded by £91.4m from BIS, £18.5m from aviation a £6.8m capital grant from BIS for polar satellites, with the remainder revenue from wholesaling data or international research grants.

Last updated: 15 May 2015

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