Realising Ambition Programme Insights: Issue 9

Published: June 2017 Publication Type: Publication

Because I’m worth it: Costs and Benefits of prevention and early intervention for reducing youth offending

Realising Ambition is delighted to announce the launch of its ninth Programme Insight, one of a series of short briefings sharing key learning from the programme.Our ninth Programme Insight builds upon previous issues in which we considered outcomes and the impact of services delivered as part of Realising Ambition and the realistic costs of delivering high-quality services for children and young people. To date we considered each been of these in isolation – something we urged caution about because one has a bearing on how the other may be interpreted.

In Programme Insight nine we combine these analyses by considering the costs and benefits of delivery within Realising Ambition.

In this briefing we describe what cost-benefit analysis is and why it is important for service delivery organisations, funders and commissioners as well as set-out our approach to cost-benefit analysis. We then present the findings of this analysis and some reflections from Realising Ambition. The programme insight also introduces the concept of ‘break-even’ analysis, which can be carried out when the evidence of impact for a given service is not sufficiently robust for a cost-benefit analysis, before drawing out conclusions and implications for policy and practice.

Key learning points include:

  • Understanding cost-benefit is important for funders and commissioners as they make difficult choices about where to invest limited resources. It can help ensure that money is spent in a way that maximises personal outcomes and social impact.
  • Lower costs do not necessarily represent better value for money.
  • Understanding cost-benefit is important for service delivery organisations as it can help them communicate value for money to funders and commissioners.
  • Our analysis gives weight to the old adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure! Many well implemented, evidence-based services represent good value for money and will likely make a strong return on investment

About Realising Ambition and our Programme Insights series

Realising Ambition is a £25m Big Lottery Fund programme supporting 22 organisations across the UK to replicate services aimed at preventing youth offending. Our Insights are designed to support anyone undertaking or commissioning services with a focus on replication and evidence. This issue builds on previous Insights which explore topics ranging from the value of replication to evidence-based commissioning.

The Realising Ambition programme is managed by a consortium committed to improving outcomes for children. It is led by Catch22, alongside the Dartington Social Research Unit, Substance and The Young Foundation.

Join the conversation

Do you agree with our findings? Share your views, tweet us using #RealisingAmbition or email us to share your thoughts@BigLotteryFund would also like you to tweet your thoughts on the programme, diverting young people from pathways into offending and funding socially responsible services.

For further information please visit our Realising Ambition project page.

Realising Ambition

Young people (image credit: Catch 22)


The Young Foundation was proud to have been a member of the consortium appointed to manage Realising Ambition, a £25 mi ... Find out more