Rather than how much you cost how about how much you save?

We are constantly asked 'that' question...you know the one..the one that can stop a lovely flowing conversation in it's tracks, the one that can make the work you were visualising as almost already happening, with all it's great outputs (measurable of course), evaporate before your very eyes..."So how much does it cost then?"

How about turning that around and informing people about how much you can save them.

I recently came across a fantastic bit of collaborative work by a number of Councils, the Troubled Families Unit and the New Economy Manchester. These organisations drew on their resources and evidence base to place a realistic cost on the actions that can surround many of the clients we work with in the inclusion field.

Here are some examples of the types of actions and their associated costs that this piece of work calculated  (this is estimated to be the case within the greater Manchester area)

  • Recording a crime £542
  • Anti social behaviour incident with further action £629
  • Arest £2,241 (per event)
  • ASBO £7,805
  • Offender management costs (under 18) £1,618
  • Crime proceedings (court Costs, per day, magistrates) £768
  • 6 month Youth Offender sentence in Youth Offender institute £26,437
  • Permanent exclusion to PRU £13,258

You have to admit those figures are pretty scary. How is it useful to us to have this information. Well we could highlight how the work we do can impact directly on the local authorities bottom line.

For example here is a case study of a young man Noise Solution worked with. A young man who had just been released from prison and was thought to be probably heading straight back there fairly soon. A young man who by his own admission was getting arrested every week (check that figure above again).

We did a 10 week programe with him and it was very successful we didn't know quite how successful till we spoke to him 9 months later when he said

"Noise Solution is the thing thats kept me out of jail for the last 9 months....rather than getting into bother I've been working on my music instead."

By my own frankly laughable underestimation that 10 week £1500 investment, it can be very plausibly argued, saved you me and every other tax payer £30,735

Those are the sort of sums that make people sit up and take notice - don't undervalue what it is that we do.

You can read about the work we did, a typical Noise Solution intervention, here







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Sound Sense's picture

Good approach, Simon. And your figures are in the right ballpark. Perhaps the most rigorous work in this area was done by New Philanthropy Capital, some of it around a Dance United project. We built on the figures in Move On Up, our work on Youth Music Mentors - and our ballpark for the cost of a young person at criminal risk topped out at £82,000. We weighted the costs of various challenging circumstances, and said “on average a mentee who was fully helped with their challenging circumstance might save society something over £51,000.” (see http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/sites/default/files/research/MoveOnUp_v... from p88).

Making the link between that figure and the effects of a music programme is more difficult, however. It’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to prove the case. But case studies and “participant testimony,” as you quote is useful. Pointing out the possible huge saving vs the actual tiny cost is a good line, too: in Youth Music Mentors, we reckoned the programme would break even on just 3% of mentors being fully helped with their challenge. That sounds like good odds to me.
Kathryn Deane, Sound Sense

Simon Glenister's picture


The mentoring report is excellent Kathryn, am wading through it now and will be revisiting I am sure. That kind of rigorous statistical research coupled with proper methodical capturing of outcomes from our practice makes it much easier to put forward the arguments for this type of intervention. It's a shame we couldn't have got involved with the mentoring program as I think as an organisation we could have added some value to it by sharing the way we are delivering - specifically our use of social media as a means of engaging those around the person we are working with. Thanks for linking to the report,


anita holford's picture

Valuable stats, great case study and documentation. Where did you get your stats from? Also, how have you been using them to advocate your work, and how successful have you been in using them? I'm sure Musical Inclusion programme folk will be interested to hear about this and the research Kathryn mentions above, and may have more questions so I will share this again on the Musical Inclusion networks ...

Simon Glenister's picture

Hi Anita,

I came across the stats researching the work we are about to do for the Troubled families unit here in Suffolk. As you can imagine quoting their partner organisations costings from other parts of the country back at them as part of our justification for the amount of value we could add was pretty effective in putting the case over. Especially when adding to the argument with examples of our own, in case study form where we could show we had had an impact in those areas. Marrying statistics and anecdotes...its a winner

You can google the organisations involved as they are mentioned in the blog post. I'd highly recommend as you say that if anyone else is interested they look at the report Kathryn co authored which she mentions in her reply as that sets it all out very clearly



a.sheen@trinitylaban.ac.uk's picture

I went to a conference earlier this year where Eric Booth was speaking. He relaid a story of a music organisation in America (the name and city escape my memory I'm afraid) who every year published an invoice in the paper addressed to the city mayor. The invoice detailed how much the music organisation had saved the mayor's office that year. It was a brilliant PR stunt and totally changed the way local people viewed the organisation - i.e. not a drain on tax payers money but a significant saving.