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The Pro Bono Economics project with Housing Rights Belfast has identified several potential economic impacts of their Housing Advice in Prisons project such as taxpayer savings from reduced housing service costs, reduced costs of future re-offending, and increased tax revenue from improved employment outcomes.

Housing Rights was established in Belfast over 50 years ago. It is a leading provider of independent specialist advice, advocacy and representation services to individuals and families, throughout Northern Ireland, who are homeless or suffering housing problems.  

This project focused on assessing the feasibility of conducting a cost-benefit analysis specifically on the charity’s Housing Advice in Prisons Project, an initiative to provide advice and support to prisoners to ensure they can find sustainable accommodation when they are released.

The analysis of our feasibility study showed that several potential economic impacts could be quantified if Housing Rights were able to strengthen the evidence base, for example taxpayer savings, reduced costs of future re-offending, and increased tax revenue from improved employment outcomes.

PBE recommended that if Housing Rights are keen to develop their cost-benefit analysis, they should consider the following options for further developing the evidence base:

  • Collecting evidence for a control group themselves, gathering data regularly to track outcomes.
  • Collaborating with the Northern Ireland Prison Service to start routinely gathering data on housing outcomes for prisoners when they are released, potentially in line with evidence captured in England and Wales. This administrative data could then be used to construct a control group to compare Housing Rights’ outcomes.

Pro Bono Economics hopes that this work serves to identify areas where capturing control group data, as well as the longer-term outcomes for prisoners who have participated in Housing Advice projects, could help to demonstrate the economic benefit of its programme. 

Thank you to Elliot Delahaye, Emily Gladstone, Marwan Hassan, Robert Matheson, Ella Morris, Siobhan Prediville, Ellie Price and Shane Vallance for their work on this project.

This project was delivered under the pilot Capacity-Building Programme funded by Oak Foundation.  Launched in early 2019, the programme is a collaboration between the Cranfield Trust, Pilotlight and Pro Bono Economics, which are collectively offering support to grantees within Oak's housing and homelessness portfolio. Pro Bono Economics' contribution is advising the grantees on measuring and evaluating their impact. 

01 October 2020