William Eichler 24 October 2016

Public parks generate ‘large surplus’ of £1.2bn

Public parks and green spaces provide benefits worth over a billion pounds and are not the liability they appear in conventional public accounts, a new study reveals.

New research by Vivid Economics published today by the National Trust showed parks provide benefits worth £1.2bn, largely through the contribution they make to residents’ physical and mental wellbeing.

This goes against the conventional wisdom—derived from how they appear in public accounts—that they are a £16m liability.

The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee today will begin hearing evidence for their inquiry into the funding crisis facing public parks.

Heritage Lottery Fund research has shown many councils face cuts to their parks budgets of up to 20%, with some facing cuts of 50-100% by 2020.

Vivid Economic’s director Robin Smale urged MPs giving evidence to the committee to consider the wider public benefits that are derived from parks and green spaces rather than their immediate financial cost.

‘Parks generate a large surplus for society in contrast to the financial liability that they appear to be in local authority financial statements,’ he said.

‘It’s essential that decisions about our parks are based on comprehensive and balanced financial accounts, which incorporate the full value of public services.

‘Reliance on the very partial expenditure and revenue records available to local authorities will be against the public interest.’

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