THE social impact of Christians Against Poverty (CAP) and its partnering churches is worth £31.5 million, a study by the London School of Economics (LSE) has said.
The report, Never Just a Number: Evaluating the impact of a holistic approach to UK poverty, calls CAP’s work “a deeply impressive, even invaluable, contribution to society”.
It says that the benefit to society for each household helped by the charity is £6493. CAPs latest annual budget was £8.74 million; its social impact was calculated at £31.59 million, almost four times as much.
Professor Anne Power, from LSE’s Housing and Communities unit, said: “CAP’s approach of helping the whole person, face-to-face, encouraging both self-help and community connections, brings wide, under-recognised social benefits.
“It is the combination of both debt help alongside personal support that makes CAP’s service so valuable for its clients, and for the communities it works in all over the country.”
The report says that 52 per cent of people who “went to CAP between November 2013 and November 2016 either went debt-free or were actively paying off their debts under a CAP plan in June 2018. . .
“Many of the incomplete cases took managing their debt into their own hands after the initial visit and agreeing a debt plan.”
It also finds that only 17 per cent of recipients of debt relief from the charity are unemployed, and that nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) receive benefits.
The study concludes: “CAP’s approach is more intense, more personal, and more holistic than most approaches to debt relief. It sees debt as a main driver of poverty, and it can quickly mount and get out of control; so getting it back in hand is vital. CAP staff are committed to a mission to help people escape poverty, debt, and other forms of dependency. . .
“Other services work with CAP and refer people to them because they know CAP is driven by the ‘extra-mile, hand-holding’ philosophy which some more difficult cases need.”
It also says that CAP makes its connection with Christianity and faith explicit, although it avoids forcing clients to share that faith: “CAP staff and volunteers are all committed members of the Church, which reaches far beyond the paid role of a job. For them, faith often underpins the most practical, hands-on forms of help. It is this combination that is maybe a unique distinguishing feature of the CAP approach.”
CAP’s chief executive, Matt Barlow, said: “We are indebted to Professor Power and the LSE team for their rigour and openness in reviewing our approach. We strive to be people who see our clients as individuals — people with unique lives, families, and circumstances — and I’m glad the report has recognised that holistic support so much.
“It’s fantastic to see the much underrated UK church communities in the spotlight, doing what a business could not: providing ongoing care, friendship, and encouragement to people going through the hardest of times.”
Read the full report at capuk.org/connect/policy-and-government/never-just-a-number
You can also read our report on the new BBC documentary on CAP