15 Mar 2017

Homeless ex-service self-build schemes show excellent dividends in benefit/cost relationship

New evidence points to the cost effectiveness of homeless self-build schemes for ex-service personnel, based on two Community Self Build Agency-supported projects. This is shown in the amount of benefit achieved per £1 spent.

Funded by the Forces in Mind Trust and supported by the University of Bristol, the report reviewed the two ex-forces self-build projects - CSBA's pilot at West Street in 2010 and York Road in 2013.

The evaluation monetises the benefits and costs of the projects to create a ratio that allows the projects to be judged in terms of the amount of benefit created compared to the costs.

It found that West Street generated a pessimistic £2.50 per £1 spent, with an optimistic figure of £4.70, while York Road started similarly at a cost/benefit ratio of £2.60, but an optimistic yield of £7.20. These ratios were achieved on modest overall costs, approx. £17,500 per participant at West Street, and £20,000 at York Road.

The report found:

Our analysis showed that participation in the project had a positive effect on the self-buildlers' relationships, with the majority reconnecting with estranged family. It helped several self-builders find work, and improved others' prospects through trainging. It improved their mental wellbeing, and in two cases their physical health.

The CSBA acknowledges that projects such as these have wider economic and social benefits - and costs. The evidence proves the merit of self-help projects in supporting ex-service personnel faced with some form of homelessness.

The report recommended that the CSBA/ex-service personnel self build projects should be expanded to build on these successes. However, it also acknowledged the challenges that such projects entail, not least the reliance on strong and committed leadership and staffing. But it recommneds that these obstacles can be met with training, together with and new stakeholders being involved in future projects, to produce efficiency gains and reduced workloads.

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