How valuable is the Met Office?

'Met Office — The Public Weather Service's contribution to the UK economy' is a comprehensive report on just how much we benefit the UK economy as a whole.

  • We help save lives.
  • We benefit the Government, in monetary terms, by much more than we cost.
  • We provide more than £300 million of services to the public.

Support for the Met Office

"The Met Office provides a service which is second to none in helping the UK understand and make the most of the weather in this country and overseas."
Derek Twigg, Undersecretary of State for Defence (June 2007 to October 2008)

As the UK's national weather service we are responsible for providing weather and other related services in support of national need - to help protect life and property; safeguard the environment, and contribute to national security and sustainable development.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, we are providing these services to the country. While doing so we are also supporting and providing benefit to numerous other areas of the public sector and the economy - but by just how much has never been quantified, until now.

The report into the Public Weather Service's value to the UK economy has been produced by  External link icon PA Consulting Group on behalf of the PWS Customer Group.

PWSCG benefits report Download 'Met Office - The Public Weather Service's contribution to the UK economy' (PDF, 4 MB)

Summary

The Met Office's Public Weather Service (PWS) provides the weather forecasts that the UK depends upon. It funds and is responsible for gathering observations of the current weather, developing and operating the computer model that predicts future weather, and the analysis of observations and model output to create our weather forecasts.

With an annual budget of around £82.3 million it provides services for ten government departments and 600 other agencies.

The study describes the impact of the PWS on the public, plus it reviewed ten government departments - three in detail: the Cabinet Office, the Environment Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Customers were interviewed about how they used our services to help minimise the detrimental impact of weather events.

The study grouped benefits into four categories.

  • Lives saved and casualties avoided.
  • Efficiency savings made.
  • Properties protected.
  • Wider social and environmental benefits.

Overall findings

The PWS delivers an exceptional return on investment

  • The public values the Met Office's services at £353.2 million.
  • Valuation of benefit from the Cabinet Office, Environment Agency and Civil Aviation Authority showed a minimum additional contribution to the UK economy and society of at least £260.5 million per annum.
Valuation and benefits
DepartmentLives savedFinancial equivalent of lives saved[1] (£ millions)Property savings / efficiency gains (£ millions)Total fiscal benefit (£ millions)
Cabinet Office5479.84.183.9
Environment Agency--47.9[2]47.9
Civil Aviation Authority2029.6[2]99.1[2]128.7[3]
Total74109.4151.1260.5
  1. Cost of a life is estimated at £1.478 million.
  2. Environment Agency and Civil Aviation Authority figures discounted to incorporate their respective direct service spend.
  3. Excludes environmental savings of 352,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

The PWS saves lives

  • Hundreds of lives are saved every year as a result of the services provided.
  • Thousands of incidents are mitigated against by the early provision of information.

The PWS output is world class

  • The depth, accuracy and timeliness of information provided is many times the value of individual funding from each organisation.
  • Individual customers could not gain access to such world-class output from anywhere else.

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Last updated: 10 June 2011