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Social Return on Investment - Inputs, Outputs and Outcomes

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Inputs are those things that stakeholders contribute in order to make activities possible.  Inputs are both financial (money) and non-financial (time).  Table 5.1 summarises the inputs for Wales.  While the inputs were relatively straightforward to identify, care was taken to ensure that there was no double counting between organisations, for example Welsh Government and Sport Wales.  A number of stakeholders identified in Figure 4.1 are not included in Table 5.1 because their inputs are captured elsewhere.  For example, the commercial sector is not included as all the inputs provided by this sector are counted in consumer expenditure on sport.  The total inputs for sport in Wales were approximately £1.35bn. In addition to spending by households and the public sector, this aggregate figure includes the replacement value of the time contributed by volunteers to support participation in sport and active recreation in Wales.

Table 5.1: Summary of the SROI inputs 



Activity charges/fees

Equipment costs

Sport clothing and footwear

Travel and other costs






Voluntary Sector



Public Sector

Sport Wales

Local Authorities






Outputs are a quantitative summary of an activity.  There are two types of outputs for Wales, namely sports participation and sports volunteering.  These were sourced from the National Survey for Wales. Table 5.2 shows the participation statistics for sport and physical activity as well as the prevalence of sport volunteering in Wales among adults aged 16+. These statistics were used in the valuation of the health, subjective wellbeing and social capital outcomes.

Table 5.2:  Adult participation and volunteering statistics for Wales 2021/22

Sport%Physical Activity%
Less than once a week50<30 mins per week (Inactive)30
Once or twice a week1830-149 mins per week (Fairly active)14
Three times a week or more32150+ minutes per week (Active)56
Volunteering (General)10  
Volunteering (Club)7  

Health valuation

To ensure that the estimates derived using our approach are robust and defensible, only those health conditions for which there is strong empirical evidence demonstrating the link between sport/physical activity and improved physical and mental health were included in the study. 

Table 5.3 presents the health conditions that were valued and the corresponding reductions in risk of disease among adults who take part in sport/physical activity at moderate intensity for 150+ minutes (or 75+ minutes of vigorous activity) per week. The risk reductions are guided by the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines6 and the related underpinning epidemiological evidence. 

Table 5.3 also presents estimated risk reductions for people who participate between 30-149 mins per week.  The assumptions for the risk reductions of participating 30-149 mins per week were derived assuming a linear-dose response relationship between activity level and risk reduction and assuming that this cohort takes part in sport/PA for an average of 60 minutes per week. The assumption is based on the consensus of experts working in academia and policy, and the CMO guidelines that such lower volumes (less than 150 minutes per week), lower intensities and lower frequencies of physical activity may also confer health benefits.  This assumption is likely to underestimate rather than overestimate the value of the benefits, meaning the values derived will be conservative and defensible (which is a key principle of SROI).  

Table 5.3: Health conditions included in the SROI and risk reductions

Health conditionPopulationRisk reduction (150+ mins pw)Rise reduction (30-149 mins pw)
CHDAll adults 16+35%14%
StrokeAll adults 16+35%14%
Type 2 diabetesAll adults 16+40%16%
Breast cancerFemale adults 16+20%8%
Colon cancerAll adults 16+20%8%
Hip fractureOlder adults 65+52%21%
Back painAll adults 16+25%10%
DepressionAll adults 16+30%12%
DementiaAll adults 16+30%12%

In order to derive an estimate of the health benefits attributable to sport and active recreation, we first calculated the cumulative value of these benefits for all forms of physical activity among adults who were ‘active’ (150+ minutes per week) and ‘fairly active (30-149 minutes per week). We then estimated what proportion of those who met the ‘active’ and ‘fairly active’ physical activity thresholds took part in sport (at least once a week). This was 65% and 45% respectively. The ratio was multiplied by the overall health value for physical activity to calculate sport’s contribution to health benefits. In other words, for each health condition the estimated value for sport is a sub-set of the overall value for physical activity.

Table 5.4 presents the number of cases of ill health prevented though people in Wales participating in sport.  Over 113,000 cases of ill health were prevented in 2021/22. Cases of ill-health prevented through sport were calculated using the risk reductions, prevalence data and participation rates for both ‘active’ and ‘fairly’ active participants.

Table 5.4: Cases of ill health prevented through sport

Health outcomes150+ mins pw30-149 mins pwTotal
Type 2 diabetes33,4883,11836,606
Breast cancer20119220
Colon cancer13411144
Hip fractures82291912
Back pain24,9472,06927,016

The number of cases were then multiplied by the direct and indirect health care costs (Table 5.5).  The annual cost per person varies between each health condition. For some health conditions (e.g., back pain) the costs relate to health care only, whereas for others (e.g. CHD they also cover wider costing including informal care. The availability of cost data for treating health conditions was variable. In most conditions, data from Wales was used, but for any conditions which could not be sourced, we borrowed UK or England cost data. We inflation adjusted costs to the year of study. 

Table 5.5: Annual cost per case 

Health outcomesHealthcare costs (£)Indirect costs (£)Total (£)
Type 2 diabetes745n.a.745
Breast cancer20,60636,15956,764
Colon cancer20,60636,15956,764
Hip fractures19,69014,25833,948
Back pain265n.a.265

The overall cost savings from participating in sport are presented in Table 5.6. The total cost savings are £679m for the nine conditions presented, with 80% coming from people who meet the CMO guidelines of 150+ mins per week.  Of this, 22% (£151m) are direct healthcare cost savings, and 78% (£528m) are related to other indirect health costs.

Beyond the nine health conditions identified we have also placed a notional value on sport injuries using proxy data from England7, which is based on the number of A&E admissions recorded as sports injuries and related cost data.  The cost of sports injuries is highlighted in red. The net health cost savings of participating in sport in Wales is £621m.  

Table 5.6: Health valuation for sport in Wales

Health outcomes150+ mins pw (£m)30-149 mins pw (£m)Total (£m)
Type 2 diabetes24.952.3227.27
Breast cancer11.431.0612.49
Colon cancer7.590.618.20
Hip fractures27.893.0830.97
Back pain6.600.557.15
Sub total623.8855.50679.37

Wellbeing Valuation Analysis: subjective wellbeing and social capital

The research team used the Wellbeing Valuation Approach (WVA) to derive monetary values for subjective wellbeing and social capital8, resulting from participation and volunteering in sport in Wales.  The previous SROI for Wales (2016/17) utilised subjective wellbeing (SWB) proxies for participation derived using data from the Understanding Society survey, which is a large, longitudinal and representative sample of the UK population. Whilst it is entirely appropriate to use UK data in the absence of Welsh data, these proxies are now dated, and given that SWB was a substantial proportion of the overall social value generated from sport in Wales previously, we conducted a wellbeing valuation specifically for Wales.  

The WVA calculates the amount of income required to bring about an outcome such as subjective wellbeing (or social capital), up to the level it would be ordinarily if participation (or volunteering) were excluded. We selected this approach as it is widely used and accepted as a valid measure for valuing non-market outcomes for participation and volunteering in the sport sector. 

Our study applied the WVA using data from the National Survey for Wales.  The dataset for 2019-20 was selected as it was the most recent one that included variables on sport volunteering and income.  Table 5.7 presents the WVA values for subjective wellbeing and social capital derived for participation at different frequencies and volunteering through a club.  The value of sport volunteering is based on the variable: ‘volunteering through a sport club’ as general sport volunteering over 12 months did not produce a statistically significant result.

Table 5.7: WVA values (2019/20)

Health outcomesSubjective wellbeing (£)Social capital (£)
Sports participation 3+ per week v less than 3 times per week1,5411,732
Sports participation once or twice per week v less than once per week. 1,0171,270
Sports volunteering through a club (last 12 months)1,7194,661

The values in Table 5.7 were inflated to the year of study and multiplied by the corresponding number of participants aged 16+ and volunteers in sports clubs.  Table 5.8 illustrates the value participants’ gain from higher subjective well-being was estimated to be £1.74bn and the value of volunteers was £316m. In total, the contribution of sport to subjective well-being in Wales was £2.06bn.  Similarly, the value of enhanced social capital created from participation was £2.02bn and from volunteering was £856m.  The overall contribution of sport to enhanced social capital in Wales was £2.87bn.

Table 5.8: Subjective wellbeing and social capital valuation

 Subjective wellbeing (£m)Social Capital (£m)

The replacement value of volunteers

In addition to the individual wellbeing and social capital benefits that volunteers gain from sport, they provide a non-market value for organisations which utilise them.  We use the replacement cost of volunteers as a proxy to represent this value.  We estimate this using the equivalent labour market value of volunteers' time, which is calculated using average volunteer hours, multiplied by average hourly earnings in Wales.  The value of this is estimated at £430m.