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What is it?

Preventing health and social problems before they occur makes common sense, but how do we demonstrate that prevention saves money? While the evidence base for prevention and early intervention in the early years is growing, but there are still some significant gaps when it comes to costs and cost savings.

To address this, the Big Lottery Fund commissioned the London School of Economics to undertake a study into the potential savings that could be achieved through investing in prevention and intervention in the early years, focusing in particular on the three A Better Start child development outcome areas: social and emotional development; speech, language and communication , and diet and nutrition.

This is known as Preventonomics - the economics of prevention activities. Preventonomics comprises models and frameworks to support the A Better Start partnerships and other local areas to understand the potential down-stream public sector cost savings to be generated from intervening with parents and children aged 0-3 years.

How does it work?

LSE have created a toolkit to assist local areas in modelling the costs and potential savings from preventative interventions and services. The toolkit is based on an evidence review on ‘What Pays’ in prevention in the early years.

The toolkit includes:

1. The Preventonomics Unit Cost Calculator

This allows users to estimate the unit costs for services and interventions based on the principles of economic costing. Using the Unit Cost Calculator, you can:

  • Calculate the unit cost for individual professionals
  • Calculate the unit cost for multi-professional interventions and services
  • Stores these estimates in a database.

The Preventonomics Unit Cost Calculator and the guidance document are available here

2. An Area Level Tracking Tool (ALTT)

The ALTT is a bespoke, area-specific, excel-based tool which allows local areas to track high-level information on financial and outcome measures in a simple yet powerful way.

Using the ALTT, you can track:

  • How much is spent on which services in any given year, alongside the purpose and potential recipients of those resources. Categories include: type of service (for example, universal or early intervention), provider, beneficiaries, number of beneficiaries, and agency holding the budget.
  • Area-level outcomes. In order to track area-level outcomes, the ALTT draws on the measures identified for the Common Outcomes Framework. These are an agreed set of mainly routinely-collected indicators that are easily available and relevant to improving outcomes in early social and emotional development, speech, language and communication development, and diet and nutrition.

3. A Cost and Savings Model

This model was developed to support A Better Start partnerships to estimate potential savings from A Better Start interventions over the short term (5 years) and the longer term (30+ years).

How local areas can use Preventonomics

The Unit Cost Calculator and corresponding guidance is freely available to download and use.

PUCC: The Preventonomics Unit Cost Calculator and guidance document are available here

The Area Level Tracking Tool and guidance will be available shortly.

Contact details

Twitter - @preventonomics