A Practical Guide to Understanding Social Costs

Deloitte, Feb 2016: Click here to read the report.

This guide will have different appeal to different users:

  • For service providers it offers new tools to articulate the challenges they tackle and relative costs of their approach in a way they may not have had the guidance to do so previously.

  • For Governments at all levels, it offers different tools for considering where costs fall in the system and how to connect this to more efficient and effective funding approaches as well as encouragement to bring greater visibility to cost data they hold.

  • For investors it provides another input to making robust assessments of the cost of social issues rather than programs, along with the impact, risk and return of different service offerings

Cost data is hard to come by, everywhere. Even the data that is available is often in data repositories beyond the reach of many organisations in terms of cost or analysis or both.

The UK Government has already released unit cost data for over 600 different areas of programs and services in a unit cost database. NSW Government is exploring similar measures. The Australian Government is looking to actuarial and investment based approaches being utilised in other countries, such as here in New Zealand.

Costs are one important part of the story. The end game is to demonstrate well-informed decisions and direct funding and finance toward what works to improve people’s lives. That means we need to know, track and build the evidence for what works to achieving better outcomes and greater impact for individuals, families and communities. This Guide references the importance of defining what success would look like by reference to outcomes and being able to relate analysis of costs to what is being achieved.


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