The Economic Value of Advice

This report was commissioned by NICVA’s Centre for Economic Empowerment to determine the economic/monetary impact of voluntary advice provision in Northern Ireland.
The Economic Value of Advice
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This report provides information on the generalist voluntary advice sector and how its impact is evidenced.  Work to date, including evaluations and reviews of advice provision, has tended to focus very strongly on social impacts and perhaps has been less likely to demonstrate genuine economic/monetary impact.  While these evaluations are extremely important in demonstrating the hugely valuable impact of the sector, in this model we seek to look at elements that can be quantified in monetary terms with a degree of reliability.  

The report explains how this robust approach to economic analysis has been taken and summarises the key evidence underpinning the model. We discuss the issues that cannot be analysed in monetary terms at present and highlight some of the social impacts which may be worth including in future, if additional information becomes available. Finally, we set out the economic value model in detail, and explain the elements and how it is to be used and updated.

The model has been run for the 2014/15 period.  During this period, 159,158 clients were given advice by the advice sector in Northern Ireland. This includes a diverse range of clients seeking advice on many different issues, but excludes special debt advice projects. Including within the model are the elements that can be accurately measured and allow us to determine the economic outcome.  

Based on the inclusion of these elements the economic outcome of voluntary generalist advice in Northern Ireland in 2014/15 is believed to be at least £66.3m p.a. Of this total, it is estimated that:

• £27.2m can be considered to be fiscal (i.e. associated with potential reductions in Government expenditure or increases in income)
• £6.8m is not fiscal
• £32.3m is partially fiscal

This can be compared with the estimated cost to the public purse of running the voluntary generalist advice sector of £3.4m.  This suggests a return or multiplier effect of 19.5.  Bearing in mind that this does not incorporate all aspects of the work or indeed measure all impacts in economic/monetary terms, the generalist voluntary advice sector must be considered excellent value for money. 

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