Post by Alex Osmond
On 27 September 2017 we launched our Support that Saves report, analysing the savings that The Wallich’s services can generate.
Support that Saves highlights the importance of the Welsh Supporting People budget, which funds the majority of our residential and floating support services.
The report analyses a set of The Wallich clients, who act as case studies to demonstrate the savings that our support can generate for the NHS, the justice system, social care, and other services; savings which are especially important in today’s economic climate.
On average, for every pound The Wallich spends, we save £2.99.
Rather than rehashing the report, I’ll leave you to read it. Instead, this blog post will discuss my personal reflections of the research and writing of the report.
When we first discussed the idea of analysing the value for money of supporting our clients, I was worried it would seem cold and clinical, and that we might be perceived as seeing our clients as mere numbers.
I realised, however, it needn’t be an issue. The Wallich views its service users as individuals with their own strengths, flaws, stories and goals. I made sure these values were clear in the report, as they underpin the individual-centred support we provide.
What is more, it is perfectly acceptable to buy into the moral argument for supporting vulnerable people while making services cost-effective.
Today’s economic context means that value for money is routinely discussed in the offices of policymakers and think-tanks. Politicians need to make decisions with fewer resources available to them. We all have our own views on the current political and economic climate, but The Wallich has a job to do, and we will do it to the best of our ability.
Writing this report has hammered home to me just how important it is that The Wallich considers how to make its services effective in the practical and financial sense. Doing so, can only increase the support we get from across the political spectrum – not to mention the public. In fact, sometimes, challenging times can lead to opportunities and innovation.
The importance of Supporting People funding
Each case study I investigated, anonymised and costed is a real person. I tried to keep this in my mind as much as possible as I wrote Support that Saves. I am very grateful to the service users who allowed me to interview them as part of the research.
Every one of our clients has their own story. It’s important to note that not all of our service users deal with the issues that the ones in the report do.
At The Wallich, we often deal with some of the more chaotic clients that other organisations won’t. And if saving their lives can also save money, then I struggle to see how opposing this idea would work. This sentiment, comes from someone whose default position is scepticism when he hears a new argument, and always – or, at least, tries to – considers every side of an issue. When I say I believe in something, it’s not something I’ve taken lightly.
Read the report and make up your own minds, but I don’t think a clearer affirmation of the practical benefits and cost-effectiveness of the Supporting People programme could be found.
We’ve also included a case study from our BOSS Project in the report, which also highlights substantial savings; this initiative is funded differently, which is explained in the report.
Lessons from Support that Saves
Ultimately, the most important idea that has been reinforced in my mind is the importance of Supporting People, which is such an important funding stream for Wales’ most vulnerable people.
Given that it saves money, as Support that Saves demonstrates, I am struggling to come up with even the most basic of hypothetical criticisms of the funding.
By continuing to provide Wales with such a powerful tool, the Welsh Government proves its commitment to providing support to vulnerable people, while being mindful of the economic issues of the day.
Wales can continue to lead the drive in ending homelessness, and at The Wallich, we’ll continue to use Supporting People funding in the most effective way possible, to save money as well as lives.
Read the full Support that Saves report.