Good investments:
Physical Activity, Sport and social value in London.

Our vision – a vision where London is the most physically active city in the world – carries with it a deeper purpose that goes further than simply helping to support more active Londoners.

Photo Credit: Illuminate Freedom and Freshest Frames


We want London to be a city that is home to happier, healthier and more prosperous people: a city where people are regularly involved in physical activity and sport, and where the benefits of physical activity contribute to the city’s fullest potential.

This report uses a Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology to look at the real-world impacts of increasing Londoners’ physical activity levels and the quantifiable impacts on London as a city.

In partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Sport England, Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) developed a national model (England) to estimate Social Return on Investment in sport1. The research presented here builds on this innovative work to measure for the first time the SROI of sport and physical activity in Greater London.

In providing clear evidence of the benefits of physical activity and sport, our intention is to strengthen the case for future commitments to increasing participation across the capital.

In alignment with the Government’s strategy for sport, the outcomes valued were:

Physical wellbeing

Mental wellbeing

Individual development

Social and community development

Photo Credit: GoodGym


Identify key stakeholders
Map outcomes
Measure and value outcomes
Establish impact
Calculate SROI

1. Identify key stakeholders. To include and which stakeholders to exclude.

2. Map outcomes in logic model. Identify relevant inputs and decide which are, in principle, material outputs and outcomes. Develop an impact map or theory of change to show the relationship between inputs, outputs and outcomes.

3. Measure and value outcomes. Identify indicators, through literature, secondary data, and financial proxies. Decide which inputs, outputs and outcomes can be included because of sufficient empirical evidence, and which must be excluded on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Ensure that there is no double-counting of either inputs or outputs.

4. Calculate impact. Deduct deadweight (what would have happened anyway) and displacement (where the activity has simply replaced another). Identify attribution (the percentage of outcomes attributable to this activity, rather than other activities). Calculate the duration of the impact and the drop-off in outcomes over time.

5. SROI. Calculate the SROI ratio (divide the total social value of participation and volunteering by the total costs/investment). Test the sensitivity of the estimated SROI to variations in the outcome measures, financial proxies, deadweight, displacement, attribution, duration, drop-off, and discount rate.

6. Report and embed. Report to stakeholders; identify gaps in evidence base; make recommendations; disseminate the results.

Using this SROI methodology2, a base model was established to estimate the social value of physical activity and sport in 2015/16, together with the costs of providing the infrastructure and opportunities for participation.

The base model was used as a means forecasting additional social value created if physical activity levels increase.

The impact map below illustrates how stakeholder inputs, in the form of money and volunteer time, enable participation in physical activity. Based on empirical evidence, we know that physical activity results in a range of outcomes at both the individual and social level. The extent of these outcomes is measured and an equivalent monetary value is then calculated.

Identify Stakeholders

Public / Government sector

Private / Commercial sector

Charities / Third sector

Consumer sector

Identify & value inputs

Money (capital and revenue expenditure from stakeholders)

Time (volunteering)

Audit of activites

Sport & physical activity participation
– Adults
– Children


Participation in active travel

Measure outputs

Frequency & intensity of participation
– 150 minutes per week of moderate or vigorous intensity activity

Hours worked volunteering

Identify, measure & value outcomes

Increased perceived self efficacy

Increased confidence

Improved leadership skills

Cognitive benefits

Improved self esteem

Improved social trust

Improved health

Reduced crime

Improved educational performance

Enhanced human capital

Improved social capital

Improved subjective wellbeing

Improved community cohesion & social inclusion

Further details of the methodology and the key assumptions made are available from London Sport.

The Social Return on Investment for Sport and Physical Activity in London

£5.92 billion

Financial and non-financial inputs into London

Facilities, the provision of opportunities, and equipment that facilitates activity all cost money and/or time. Participation in physical activity and sport is enabled by investment made by Government (national, local and devolved), the third sector, the consumer sector (e.g. individuals spending money on equipment and gym memberships) and significantly, an army of volunteers who give their time in-kind.

The total value of inputs in 2015/16 were calculated at £5.92bn. A breakdown of this financial and non-financial inputs into sport and physical activity is provided below.

  • Public/Government sector: £713.2m
  • Charities/third sector: £8.91m
  • Consumer sector: £2.1bn
  • Non-financial inputs (the value of sports volunteers): £3.042bn
£8.75 billion

Physical Wellbeing

CHD/Stroke, Diabetes, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Dementia, Depression and Good Health


Mental Wellbeing

Subjective wellbeing of participants and volunteers


Individual Development

Improved educational attainment and enhanced human capital


Social & Community Development

Improved social capital and crime reduction


Under the conservative estimates that underpin the Social Return on Investment (SROI) model, it is revealed that there is currently a total social value output of £8.75bn to Greater London through physical activity and sport.

Over half of the social value output can be attributed to subjective wellbeing and life satisfaction outcomes.

The second largest contribution is from social and community development which contributes about a third, primarily through enhanced social capital generated by volunteers.

This is followed by physical wellbeing at 5.7% and finally individual development outcomes which contribute the smallest amount of social value at less than 2%.


Social Return on Investment

For every £1.00 invested in sport and physical activity in London (the inputs), £1.48 worth of social value is generated for individuals and society.

Exploring the Outcomes

Physical Wellbeing

The preventative health benefits of physical activity are now well understood. Based on 2015/16 participation levels described it is estimated that in London the following cases were averted:

  • 36,160 cases of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • 16,696 cases of Type 2 diabetes
  • 413 cases of breast cancer
  • 194 cases of colon cancer
  • 3,788 cases of dementia
  • 67,583 fewer people experiencing clinical depression
  • Over 3.5m fewer visits to GPs
  • Over 3.5m fewer instances of accessing mental health services

The savings created by averting these conditions and the reduction in demand for GP and mental health services through leading physically active lives totalled an estimated £499.2m.

Case Study Core Sport / Core Arts

Core Sport is a department of Core Arts, an adult mental health charity based in Hackney. Launched in April 2015 the project has supported over 800 adults with mental health needs to participate in inclusive and sporting activity, many of whom live otherwise sedentary and isolated lifestyles. Since the project began, participants have seen a 0% readmission to hospital psychiatric wards compared to an average 25% readmission among non-project participants.

Mental Wellbeing

Both physical activity and sports participation are associated with improvements in subjective wellbeing or happiness.

  • The social value generated by improvements in subjective wellbeing and general life satisfaction accounts for over half of all social value generated by physical activity and sport
  • The value participants gain from higher subjective wellbeing is estimated to be £3.42bn
  • For sports volunteering, the gains from higher subjective wellbeing are estimated to be £2.4bn
  • At an individual level, sports participation creates average improvements to subjective wellbeing equivalent to a value of £1,161. For the sports volunteer this subjective wellbeing improvement is the equivalent of £2,428
Case Study Wendy, Dao Lu

Wendy joined Dao Lu’s Tai Chi sessions after her retirement, having had negative experiences of physical activity and sport in her earlier life. Along with the benefits of regular activity and time spent in the outdoors, Wendy has experienced new social connections and increased levels of wellbeing throughout her time with Dao Lu.

Individual Development

This study valued two educational outputs relating to physical activity and sport:

  • Net positive impact on educational attainment
  • Starting salaries of graduates who participate in sport at university

Evidence suggests that:

  • Sports participation leads to a 1% increase in educational attainment (GCSEs and A-levels)
  • Graduates who participate in sport at university have on average, a £6,115 higher starting salary than those that do not participate

For London, it is estimated that these two outcomes combined create a social impact value of £160.86m.

Case Study Adrian Klemens, Dynamic Sports Academy

Adrian founded Dynamic Sports Academy in 2007, a group which has supported thousands of young Londoners over the past decade. As well as providing an environment for physical development, Adrian fosters an environment that nurtures young people’s personal development. As well as supporting efforts to place promising athletes into US high school and college scholarships, Adrian also provides guidance and encouragement to support young people into Further and Higher Education.

Social and Community Development

Reductions in crime:

Engagement in physical activity and sport was estimated to prevent 3,164 criminal instances among London males aged 10-24 years. The unit cost saving for each crime averted is estimated at £3,168.

The value of volunteers

While volunteers are an ‘input’ that enables physical activity and sport to happen, they provide a service which is a form of social capital to the organisations (e.g. sports clubs) that benefit – a societal outcome unlike the well-being benefits identified above.

  • Each individual volunteer provides an average value to their organisations equivalent to £4,555 per annum
  • The combined in-kind value provided by all active sport volunteers in London equates to £3.04bn
Case Study Double Jab Boxing Club

Double Jab Boxing Club has been teaching discipline, respect and commitment to members of the New Cross community through boxing. The club’s “Jab, Don’t Stab” motto has been pushed relentlessly throughout Lewisham in an effort to draw young people in Lewisham away from gang and knife crime. The club provides junior sessions, police referral sessions, young offenders’ sessions and alternative education programmes to provide a broader range of support to young Londoners and help to alleviate risks associated with crime and antisocial behaviour in London.

Looking to the future

London Sport has a target of getting 1,000,000 people more active by 2020. The chart below forecasts how the amount of social value generated would increase as more people become active.

  • £8.75bn
  • £9.2bn
  • £9.65bn
  • £10.1bn
  • £10.5bn
An increase of one million in the number of physically active Londoners would be expected to create an additional £1.81bn social value which, if achieved, would return an overall forecast social value of over £10bn.

The boxes below provide a breakdown of the additional social value

Physical Wellbeing

Forecast if 1 million more people active in Greater London by 2020


Base value and forecast value combined

Mental Wellbeing

Forecast if 1 million more people active in Greater London by 2020


Base value and forecast value combined

Individual Development

Forecast if 1 million more people active in Greater London by 2020


Base value and forecast value combined

Social & Community Development

Forecast if 1 million more people active in Greater London by 2020


Base value and forecast value combined

Total value of outcomes

Forecast if 1 million more people active in Greater London by 2020


Base value and forecast value combined


Forecast if 1 million more people active in Greater London by 2020

Base value and forecast value combined

Physical Wellbeing
Mental Wellbeing
Individual Development
Social & Community Development
Total value of outcomes

The World’s Happiest, Healthiest, Most Prosperous City

This report represents the first attempt to use Social Return on Investment analysis to value the social impact of sport to Greater London. It applies a quantitative analysis to the ways that getting people more active is more likely to make Londoners happier, and less likely to develop serious chronic illness and suffer from mental health issues. It also shows the way that physical activity can positively impact the social, health and structural fabric of London itself.

We know that physical activity and sport can positively impact Londoners’ lives and the environments that they live and work in. This report shows the extent of that impact, and the diverse ways that becoming the world’s most active city will also make us its happiest, healthiest and most prosperous city.


To find out more about this publication or our insight work about physical activity and sport in London, get in touch.
0203 848 4630

1SIRC (2016). Social Return on investment in Sport: A Participation wide model for England: Summary Report. [online].
2For more information on the SROI see: