University of Bath

Proving the value of advice: a study of the impact of Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) services

An IPR Policy Brief analysing the long term impact of advice and the social value of social purpose organisations.

CAB provide a universal advice service to all clients who approach them. Typically, the problems for which they seek advice are debt, welfare & housing as well as employment, consumer & legal issues. Clients of CAB tend to be vulnerable, & demand for advice services has increased in times of austerity & public spending cuts. At the same time, advice services can be dependent on public funding and are facing cuts to their budgets. It is therefore important for advice services, like other voluntary & community sector organisations, to measure the impact of their interventions, calculate the return on investment by funders, & consider ways of improving service delivery in order to ensure value for money.

The study found a Social Return on Investment ratio of 1:50 over a 5 year period for the 80 clients who participated in the research. For every pound spent on CAB-BANES services, a value of £50 was generated.