Pro Bono Economics worked with Shelter Scotland in 2016 to give the charity advice on how to collect data. See a summary here.
Economist volunteers from the Department for International Development continued their work with Shelter to help them understand the costs and benefits of their Foundations First project, which is designed to stop at-risk households from becoming homeless. Using earlier advice from Anthony and Conor at DfiD, Shelter Scotland collected enough data on the project for the volunteers to conduct a break-even analysis to show the minimum amount of benefits to society the project would need to make to cover the costs of the project.
Anthony and Conor calculated the total economic costs of Foundations First as £1.04m over the life of the project (for costs they were able to monetise). Using estimates from the literature on the costs of homelessness, they have estimated that Foundations First would have to prevent 24 households becoming homeless for a period of 12 months, compared to a counter-factual of no project, to break-even.
Using data from the project’s first year of operations, the volunteers have been able to conduct some rudimentary analysis that suggests the Foundations First project may already break even in its second year, and therefore may already be providing a net benefit to society.
With thanks to Conor Doyle and Anthony Higney for preparing this report.