In a report for Step Together Volunteering – a charity that provides opportunities for individuals excluded from society – Pro Bono Economics has shown the positive impact its work may have on reducing reoffending rates for the cohort of people it engages with.
Data from around a quarter of its 2014-17 beneficiaries illustrated an average reoffending rate of 7%. This compares with the average proven reoffending rate of 29% in the regions where Step Together Volunteering operates. Scenario analysis on the data shows a plausible central cost-benefit estimate could be £1.50 in societal benefits per £1 spent on services.
Scenario analysis was used to calculate the benefit-to-cost ratio due to uncertainties around extrapolating the impact on average reoffending rate in the sample to the full number of beneficiaries helped. This ranged from 0.2-6.2, based on the estimated benefits, varying according to two factors (the programme costs incurred by the charity were known, and hence were fixed in all scenarios).
The two factors are: (i) a reduction in reoffending rates across the whole programme; and (ii) the cost of the crime itself which also varies significantly. As such, the lower end benefit-to-cost (0.2) reflects both a lower impact (i.e. smaller reduction in reoffending) and the average costs of crime for less serious crimes, while the higher end is calculated from the upper range for reductions in reoffending and applies the higher costs of crime applicable to more serious offences.
Step Together Volunteering provides volunteering opportunities to those excluded from society, with the aim of helping them develop the necessary confidence and skills to move forward in their lives. Providing tailored support to people with complex needs referred through external organisations, the charity works flexibly throughout the year and provides intensive support to around 700 people.
The charity approached Pro Bono Economics to quantify the social value of its ex-offender rehabilitation programme, which sees the organisation offer individual counselling to ex-offenders with the aim of a reduction in reoffending rates and an increased likelihood of securing skilled employment. A team of volunteers from the UK energy regulator OFGEM was matched to this project, which relied on data totalling around 25% of the total number of beneficiaries helped from 2014-2017.
Thanks go to Mantas Aleksa, Leath Al-Obaidi, Ben Woodham and Anusree Thome for their work on this report.
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