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The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) is an international Christian voluntary organisation working to tackle poverty and provide practical assistance to individuals and families in need. The SVP approached Pro Bono Economics for assistance in understanding the economic effects of its activities, which include voluntary services such as visiting and befriending.


Pro Bono Economics (PBE) linked SVP with expert economists from Oxera, one of Europe’s foremost economics consultancies. Oxera use the SVP’s activities as a case study to illustrate the costs and benefits of these activities based on a review of the available literature, combined with information provided to Oxera by the SVP.


Oxera calculated that the SVP’s befriending activities result in an economic welfare improvement of about £11m per year. Alternatively, this can be presented as a benefit–cost ratio equal to 2.87, which indicates that for every £1 of cost generated, there is £2.87 of benefits. Oxera believe the estimate is likely to be conservative.


The services provided by SVP have several economic impacts including reduction of cost to the NHS, improvement of quality of life in the beneficiaries, improved labour market outcomes and reduced cost of social services to the government. This is coupled with individual benefits of improved mental health, enhanced skills training, and direct provision of basic necessities.