Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy

Evaluating the impact of Citizens Advice Bureau services to the Proving Our Value Research Project


Principal Investiagtor: Peter Cressey

Research Team: Michelle Farr

Funder: South West Forum

Duration: October 2011 - August 2013


Project rationale and aims

The University of Bath and Bath and North East Somerset Citizens Advice Bureau are working in partnership to measure and value the impact of Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) advice. This is one of five projects within the South West Forum ‘Proving our Value’ initiative funded by the Big Lottery, starting in 2011 for two years.

The project is led by Peter Cressey, who is responsible for the overall direction of the research. He is supported by a project team with representatives of both Bath University (Dr Susan Milner and Dr Michelle Farr) and BANES CAB (Professor Nick Abercrombie and Beth Jaynes).

Previous efforts to evaluate the economic impact of the work of social purpose organisations, specifically advice organisations, have concentrated on measuring inputs such as volunteers’ time. The majority of studies use non-financial client evaluations of outcomes or short-term direct financial benefit of advice. The University of Bath and BANES CAB partnership ‘Proving Our Value’ project will instead seek to develop more robust indicators to measure the impact of all domains of CAB advice.

The aim of the project is to understand, measure and value the long term impact of CAB services on the client, the issues that they brought to the CAB and other stakeholders. We wish to understand how much we can attribute changes in clients circumstances following advice directly to the CAB and how much have been caused by other factors.

We aim to do this by following a panel of up to 100 CAB clients over a period of 6-9 months to understand the long term impact of advice received from the CAB. Clients are interviewed using an in-depth approach; in addition to this we will be measuring clients’ well-being over the same period. Through this method we intend to investigate the effect of time on the socio-economic impact of advice to clients. Once we have evidenced the outcomes of advice, we hope to attach financial values to these using a modified social return on investment approach. This will enable us to measure financial value for clients and other important stakeholders.

Find out more about this project

Name: Mr Peter Cressey
Title: Researcher (visiting)
Department: Dept of Social and Policy Sciences
E-mail: p.cressey@bath.ac.uk