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Accountancy creates £98bn for UK and Irish GDP

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 30 Jan 2024

A new report reveals that the GDP contribution from the profession has increased by 39% over five years.
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The accountancy sector and accountants working across the wider economy made a combined £98bn (€114bn) contribution to the UK and Irish economies in 2022, a report by Oxford Economics has revealed. 

The report, published today (Tuesday 30 January), was commissioned by the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB). The profession supported more than 900,000 jobs (911,800) in the UK and Ireland, and generated £11.4 bn (€13.7 bn) in tax revenues over the same period, according to the report.

The total GDP contribution of the profession in the UK and Ireland grew by 39% between 2017 and 2022, or 22% in real terms when adjusted for inflation. Expenditure on accounting services by businesses in the UK reached £29.3bn and €3.4 billion in Ireland in 2022. In both markets, the report estimated that the IT sector was the largest purchaser of accounting services in that year. 

The UK also exported £4bn in accounting services in 2022, increasing its share of total UK service exports by 0.3% percentage points since 2016, despite the post-Brexit trading landscape. 

The report highlights the value of the accountancy profession to UK and Irish prosperity, says Julia Penny, CCAB Chair and Immediate Past President of ICAEW. Accountants are playing a key role in driving economic growth by helping businesses to navigate the effects of global challenges such as the Ukraine conflict, COVID-19 and Brexit, while leading schemes to boost social mobility and access to the profession. 

“It’s not surprising to see that contributions have grown during the past five years given the impact of the pandemic and cost of doing business crisis,” says Penny. “Demand for our knowledge and skills remains strong, in part thanks to our expanding roles in dealing with a range of non-financial information. I expect accountants to retain a central role as the profession evolves to further help businesses adapt to the climate emergency and technological advances, issues on which our future economic success and stability depend.”

The report assesses both the economic and wider social impact of the profession to the UK and Ireland, with quantitative analysis supplemented by case studies that provide a snapshot of the positive contributions that accountants are making in the areas of diversity and inclusion; skills; and sustainability.

Dr Alan Belfield, a member and former co-chair of the UK Government's Professional and Business Services Council (PBSC), says that the profession is part of “a large and vital pillar” of the UK and Irish economies. “The sector provides crucial advice that enables businesses, both large and small and in every region, to become more productive, profitable and competitive. I am not surprised to see its contribution to the UK and Irish economies has increased in recent years.”

CCAB is an umbrella organisation for the UK and Ireland’s leading accountancy bodies – ICAEW, ACCA, ICAS, CIPFA and Chartered Accountants Ireland. Membership of CCAB bodies has grown by 14% since 2017, and these bodies reported more than half a million students registered globally during 2022.

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