The economic consequences of community capacity-building projects

Principal investigator(s):
Martin Knapp
Annette Bauer, Margaret Perkins, Gerald Wistow
Start year:
End year:

In the current fiscal climate, it is important to understand and foster the potential of community resources to prevent, delay or meet social care and health needs. As part of this approach, there is a growing interest in projects that aim to build community ‘capacity’ or ‘capital’, that appear to support current national policy recommendations to build community capacity. These capacity building activities aim to harness the resources of local communities – the knowledge, skills and expertise of local populations, together with local voluntary and statutory bodies – to achieve positive outcomes.

Such outcomes may include building safer, stronger, happier communities, as well as improving the wellbeing, independence, social inclusion and the health of individuals. Such projects may delay or prevent the need for support, and thus have the potential to reduce public expenditure, benefitting both the community generally and those who have (or are at risk of developing) health and social care needs.

This project aims to examine the economic case for investing in community capacity-building projects. It aims to: look at a diverse range of projects including: time banks, befriending, health champions, focused networks, community navigators and projects that build the infrastructure for investing in community capacity; examine outcomes through the use of both existing and new data to assess effectiveness of the different schemes; in particular examine cost-effectiveness and savings to the public purse, both short-term and (through appropriately careful projections) longer-term; and work in collaboration with projects to develop methods that can be employed locally for subsequent data collection and evaluation.