The people and the pounds: how we’re measuring our value

We’re in difficult economic times, which isn’t easy to forget with the news reminding us every day. Every pound the government spends needs to bring back many pounds of value and so it’s important that organisations like ours can measure the financial impact of what we’re doing – which isn’t always easy. 

I got thinking about this on the back of the European Congress on e-Inclusion, which I’m speaking at today in Brussels. If you’ve seen me speak recently, you’ll know that I’ve got a favourite figure that makes it into most of my presentations. The number is £157m, and it relates to the money we have saved government by encouraging 43% of 1m people to shift government transactions online between April 2010 and July 2012.

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m more about the people than the stats – although I do think this statistic is a pretty good one. Contributing to this £157m saving are 1m people, who have all been supported to do more online. They’re all individuals, with different motivations. Some of them have shifted contacts online, but they’ve also found jobs, improved their health, began volunteering, and even ended their own homelessness. 

Clive has found work since visiting his local UK online centre after being made redundant- and he says would be long-term unemployed without the support he received. Even with a prudent estimate of £8,000 a year saving if an unemployed person gets a job, Clive will save the government £80,000 over the next ten years. Our evidence shows us that 8% of our 1m learners have found work – which equates to a not-insubstantial 80,000 people. If these 80,000 people all follow a similar path to Clive, that will lead to a total saving of £650m – and that’s a prudent estimate!

Roger was homeless, but he gained the skills he needed to find work – and now he’s helping others to do the same. Our evidence shows that 2% of our centre users (20,000 people) are in the same position as Roger was – and I think he’s single-handedly helping a lot of them! One homeless person costs the government £26,000 a year, and so by supporting these people find a place to live the government is savings £520m. 

Cheryl is one of 20,000 volunteers within our network, who all give their time to support people to do more online. And although all of our volunteers are priceless, we know they all contribute at least £1,100 each to the economy – a contribution of £22m across the network. 

And that’s just three people. Norah’s health has improved so dramatically since getting online and losing weight, that her health has begun to clear up. An improvement in her diabetes alone will mean she’ll save the NHS £5,000 – not to mention her high blood pressure and arthritis.  (You can watch Norah’s video here).

For me, and for our network, it will always be about the people. These stories are so great because these people have changed their lives – they feel happier, healthier and more fulfilled. But when we do have to prove just why we’re doing what we do, and why the government should continue investing in us, numbers like £157m, or £650 million, doesn’t hurt.

You can take a look at my slides from the European Congress on e-Inclusion here

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