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Arts projects for offenders save taxpayers money, finds New Philanthropy Capital study

By Anita Boniface and Andy Hillier, Third Sector Online, 25 October 2011

Arts projects save taxpayers money

Arts projects save taxpayers money

Arts projects can save an average of £4.50 for every £1 invested in them by reducing reoffending rates, a report commissioned by Arts Alliance states

Arts projects working with offenders save the taxpayer an average of £4.50 for every £1 invested in them, according to a study from New Philanthropy Capital.

The report, Unlocking Value, was commissioned by Arts Alliance and examined the results of three organisations – Clean Break, Only Connect and Unitas – which work with different groups of offenders. The report found that they brought about savings of between £3.06 and £5.89 for every £1 invested in them.

Only Connect more than halved expected rates of reoffending, from an estimated 57.5 per cent to 25.9 per cent once the charity started working with individuals, the study found. This generated savings of more than £3.2m to the criminal justice sector over six years.

Reoffending costs the government between £9.5bn and £13bn a year, with two in five adults reoffending within a year of release, the report said.

Report author David Pritchard said that the findings helped to demonstrate the value of arts organisations working with offenders, but added that more charities working in this field "needed to collect data to show the impact they have on people’s lives".

Tim Robertson, chair of the Arts Alliance, said: "This report makes it clear that arts-based interventions can help to reduce reoffending, and in doing so also save serious amounts of public money. The criminal justice sector needs to open its doors to arts organisations and find new ways of working in partnership with them."

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