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Show me the money: eighth Programme Insight launched

This Realising Ambition briefing considers the realistic costs of delivering high quality services for children and young people.

28 March 2017

Realising Ambition has launched its eighth Programme Insight, one of a series of short briefings sharing key learning from the programme.

Titled Show me the money, the Insight explores why realistic cost estimates are important and highlights the dangers of cost under-estimation. It introduces the key concept of unit cost analysis – including direct and indirect costs – and presents analysis of these across the Realising Ambition portfolio.

The Insight also summarises key learning on cost estimation and implications for both delivery organisations and commissioners of children’s services.

Key learning points include:

  • understanding the real cost of delivering a service helps ensure that it is viable and sustainable
  • a firm grasp on costs is central to informing the preparation of competitive yet realistic tenders for potential commissioners. It also helps commissioners know what is realistic within the resources available
  • work with children and young people entails a great degree of unpredictability and variation, which can translate into difficulties in estimating one single unit cost
  • direct costs accounted for, on average, just under three quarters of full unit costs in Realising Ambition projects
  • work with children and young people requires careful planning and management, which carries a cost: on average, 47% of full unit costs in Realising Ambition were attributed to this, with 19% to set-up, 11% to face-to-face time with paid practitioners and 19% to volunteer or non-paid staff time.

Realising Ambition is a £25m Big Lottery Fund programme supporting 22 organisations across the UK to replicate services that help young people to avoid pathways into offending. Our Insights are designed to support anyone undertaking or commissioning services with a focus on replication and evidence. This briefing builds on previous Insights which explore topics ranging from the value of replication to evidence-based commissioning.

Further information