Social impact 'is measured wrongly'

Too much emphasis has been placed on social return on investment compared with other measurements of social impact, according to John Pearce, director of the Social Audit Network.

Pearce used his organisation's annual conference this month to criticise the governments in Westminster and Edinburgh for spending a combined £750,000 on research into SROI. "The message from the Scottish and UK governments suggests that SROI should be the main tool for the third sector," he said. "But that hasn't received the best response from the sector."

He said SROI worked well when measuring activities with an obvious monetary value, such as helping people back to work, but not for those more difficult to measure in cash terms, such as improving quality of life.

A spokesman for the Office of the Third Sector said that work carried out to date had shown there was an interest in SROI, but said the Government recognised the need for a range of tools to evaluate impact.

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