United Kingdom

Non-participation

Key points

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Graph 1: Over time (non-working adults)

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Graph 2: By income

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Graph 3: Over time (all adults)

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Graph 4: By characteristic

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Why this indicator was originally chosen

Social networks are a means of finding paid employment and other forms of occupation.  A lack of contacts has been shown to prolong unemployment.  The long term unemployed often have low levels of social engagement beyond their immediate families. Paugam S, 1995, 'The spiral of precariousness' in G Room, Beyond the threshold, Macmillan.  Policies aimed at reducing poverty and social exclusion through paid work depend partly on fostering networks between the employed and unemployed.

For people for whom paid work is difficult to find, or inappropriate as in the case of pensioners, other means of participation can help to fulfil the basic human needs for a sense of competence, worth and socialisation.  These range from political parties, trade unions and tenants groups to social groups and sports clubs.  People's local communities can provide numerous opportunities both for help and for the chance to help. Humm J, 1997, Progress report of the community sector observatory, CDF.

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Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the number of people aged 16 or over who are neither in paid work nor in full-time education and who report themselves as not active in any of a range of social, political, cultural or community organisations.

The organisations are: trade unions, professional associations, environmental groups, parents'/school associations, pensioner groups, community groups, tenant/resident groups, women's groups, religious groups, sports clubs, social groups and political parties.

For all people aged 16 and over, the second graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion who are not active in any of the organisations varies by level of household income.

The data source for the first two graphs is the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the data relates to the United Kingdom.  The question is only asked every other year.  In the second graph, income is gross household income, but these incomes are not equivalised (adjusted) to account for differences in household size and composition.

The third graph shows the number of adults who have either not 'volunteered' in the previous twelve months or have volunteered but less than once a month.  'Volunteering' is defined as giving time for free to any group, club, organisation or individual (excluding relatives).  As such, it includes both 'formal' and 'informal' volunteering.  This is a somewhat different - and wider - definition than that used in the first two graphs.

The fourth graph shows how the proportion of adults who have either not 'volunteered' in the previous twelve months or have volunteered but less than once a month varies by selected characteristics, namely age, personal (not household) income and whether living in a deprived area or not.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

The data source for the third and fourth graphs is the Citizenship Survey and the data relates to England and Wales only.  Note that, whilst the fourth graph includes volunteering arranged via employers, such data is not counted in the third graph as it is not available for the earlier years.  The net impact of this is, however, relatively small; for example, the 29% of adults who had not volunteered n the previous twelve months in 2008/09 in the third graph (which excludes employer volunteering) compares with 28% if employer volunteering had been included.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  BHPS is a smaller survey than the other national surveys.

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External links

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Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Build more cohesive, empowered and active communities

Lead department

Department for Communities and Local Government.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Percentage of people who believe people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local area.

Percentage of people who have meaningful interactions with people from different backgrounds.

Percentage of people who feel they can influence decisions in their locality.

Percentage of people who feel that they belong to their neighbourhood.

Thriving third sector.

Percentage of people who participate in culture or in sport.

Previous 2004 targets

Increase voluntary and community engagement, especially amongst those at risk of social exclusion.

Reduce race inequalities and build community cohesion.

Tackle social exclusion and deliver neighbourhood renewal, working with department to help them meet their PSA floor Official national targets, in particular narrowing the gap in health, education, crime, worklessness, housing and liveability outcomes between the most deprived areas and the rest of England, with measurable improvement by 2010.

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The numbers

Graph 1

Not in work/education who do not participate (millions)
Year Men Women
1991/924.1 6.9
1993/943.9 6.2
1995/963.8 5.9
1997/983.7 5.9
1999/003.6 5.8
2001/23.9 6.0
2003/043.6 5.9
2005/063.1 5.8
2007/083.7 6.0

Graph 2

Poorest fifth63%
2nd 59%
Middle fifth60%
4th56%
Richest fifth51%

Graph 3

Year Have not volunteered in the last year Have volunteered in the last year, but less than once a month
200126% 28%
200327% 22%
200524% 26%
2007/0827% 25%
2008/0929% 24%
2009/1034% 24%

Graph 4

CharacteristicHave not volunteered in the last year Have volunteered in the last year, but less than once a month
Age16-2427% 24%
25-3428% 29%
35-4423% 28%
45-5426% 27%
55-6430% 24%
65-7432% 19%
Personal income per yearUnder 10K33% 21%
10-20K29% 25%
20-30K24% 29%
30-40K19% 33%
40-50K20% 31%
50K+15% 30%
Deprivation of small areaIn the most deprived fifth 39% 22%
In other areas27% 25%

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