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.
- 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:
- PWSCG commissioned report 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
Value (per annum)
|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.
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.