Britons fail to realise value of service sector as efforts to balance economy prove elusive

Less than one in ten Britons (eight percent) realise the value of the service sector to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product, according to a ComRes poll commissioned by political policy specialists The Whitehouse Consultancy.

Despite a strong performance by the service sector in 2015, nearly four in ten Britons (39 percent) think the sector represented less than half the country’s GDP. Recently published figures from the Office of National Statistics concluded the value of the sector was 78.6 percent last year.

The poll comes amid high profile slowdowns in the manufacturing industry, highlighted by the collapse of businesses in the steel and coal industries, which have challenged government efforts to rebalance the economy.

On average, Britons believed the service sector to contribute just 46 percent to the UK’s GDP.

Helen Munro, Managing Director of The Whitehouse Consultancy, said:

“The service sector is fundamental to the UK’s economic health. While it’s important the Government works to rebalance the economy and lessen this dependence on services, it’s crucial the public realises just how reliant we are on this sector.

“With manufacturing and construction struggling in recent years, services have become a primary source of revenue and one of our main exports. This isn’t necessarily a weakness, but with the EU referendum looming in the summer, we need to be alert to the potential that some services can be moved overseas and still delivered in the UK. Were that to happen, there would be economic consequences.”

Poll results

Methodology Note: ComRes interviewed 2,008 GB adults online between 15th and 17th January 2016. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.


The size of the British economy (GDP) in 2015 was £2.9 trillion. This can be split into four sectors: agriculture, manufacturing, construction and services. Approximately what proportion of the entire economy do you think was generated by the service sector in 2015? The service sector includes industries like retail, catering, finance and law. 


Less than 10% 1%
10-19% 4%
20-29% 10%
30-39% 14%
40-49% 10%
50-59% 11%
60-69% 12%
70-79% 6%
80-89% 2%
More than 90% N/A
Don’t know 30%
Less than 30% 15%
30-49% 24%
50-69% 23%
70-100% 8%