Media Release: Gain of £27 for every £1 invested in older people’s advice service

EVERY £1 invested in Link’s Older Person’s Advice Project (OPAP) achieves a social return of £27.53, a new Social Return on Investment (SROI)* a new study has revealed.

Link’s study of OPAP is among the first in Scotland to be fully assured by the SROI Network, the national body for promoting and verifying SROI activity in the UK.

Based on information provided by OPAP’s stakeholders, the project’s range of impacts was found to include:

  • Increased household income for OPAP clients by an average of £1,150 a year
  • Improved quality of life for clients, such as reduced social isolation and better diet
  • Improvement in clients’ long term health conditions
  • Reduced fuel poverty among clients
  • Reduced demand on NHS services from clients
  • Increased income to the Scottish economy due to clients’ increased income and their resulting spending

Translated into financial outcomes, the total value of OPAP from July 2008 to March 2009 was more than £2.5 million, from an overall investment in the project of £94,000. This results in a social return of £27.53 for every £1 invested.

Said a Link Group spokesperson: “To give an example, when clients described how their quality of life improved they talked about how they were able to re-establish social contact with friends and family, reducing their social isolation. How do you put a financial value on this change?

“The OPAP SROI examined how much an average older person household spent on recreation each year and gave a value to this change by looking at the average spend on recreation by older person households and considered a 20 per cent increase in spend or £415 would represent the difference the additional household income would make.

“The study was carried out by Link’s community regeneration officer, Sheila Maxwell, who in December 2009 was approved by the SROI Network as one of only a few fully Accredited SROI Practitioners in Scotland. Sheila will now deliver training to Link colleagues to enable them to carry out SROI evaluations on other projects.”

Sheila said: “Carrying out the OPAP SROI has been a challenging but rewarding experience that has helped Linkwide to gain a full appreciation of the difference OPAP makes to older people’s lives. The study is also a valuable tool that will assist us to make the social and business case to stakeholders, partners and funders to continue investing in the service.”

Speaking of Linkwide’s study, Karl Leathem, chair of the SROI Network Assurance Panel, said: “We see accreditation as a vital aspect of the development of the network throughout the UK and internationally and as a result of the work in Scotland we look forward to seeing an increase in the accreditation of reports and practitioners from among our membership there.”


For further information, a copy of the OPAP SROI report or case studies of OPAP clients, please contact Jane Smernicki, Link Group Communications Co-ordinator on 0131 624 7827 or

Note to Editors

About OPAP

OPAP is an income maximisation and holistic advice service for older tenant households (age 60+) of partner RSLs (Abronhill Housing Association, Almond Housing Association, Link Housing Association, Paragon Housing Association, Weslo Housing Management and Wishaw and District Housing Association) and all tenure older person households resident in the Falkirk Community Planning Partnership Priority Regeneration Areas.

The SROI report

SROI is an approach to understanding the impact a project has on stakeholders who experience change as a result of the project. The story of change is measured using social, environmental and economic outcomes and uses financial proxies or monetary values to represent them. The SROI process therefore gives a value to impacts of the project that do not have a monetary market value, such as improvement in older people’s quality of life.

The SROI process also considers how an outcome for one stakeholder can have an impact on another stakeholder, for example installing aids and adaptations in older people’s households enables them to stay in their home for longer and reduces the financial cost to the local authority or housing association that would otherwise have to re-home them in sheltered accommodation or care home. OPAP’s financial return relative to the cost of providing the service was then calculated.

The report presents an analysis of the social added value delivered through the funding investment of £93,999 in OPAP from July 2008 to March 2009 by the partner RSLs, Scottish Government (Wider Role Fund) and Falkirk Council on behalf of the Falkirk Community Planning Partnership (Fairer Scotland Fund).

The report shows how OPAP makes a real difference to the 351 older person households who engaged with the project between July 2009 and March 2009 for benefits advice and support and information and signposting on a wide range of issues. £404,429 in benefits was secured by OPAP, demonstrating the proactive approach needed to help older people overcome the significant barriers they face to access the benefits system. This represents an average increased household income of £1,152 for households engaging with OPAP.

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Contact: Jane Smernicki
Phone: 0131 624 7827