Recent years have seen increasing recourse to social transfers to help mitigate the most immediate manifestations of poverty, vulnerability and inequality in developing countries.
While global social and economic crises have increased the need for social transfers, fiscal austerity has constrained social sector budgets all over the world and sharpened critical public scrutiny of donor aid spending. The need to ‘make every penny count’ in the public financing of social transfers, and to ensure that this is done in a measurable and consistent manner, has become a growing concern amongst developing country and donor governments alike.
VfM is not only about minimising costs; it is about maximising the impact of money spent to improve poor people’s lives. This means making the analysis of both costs and benefits of social transfer programmes as rigorous and comprehensive as possible, at the ex ante design and appraisal stage, during implementation, and in ex post evaluation. In the UK, recent reports from the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee have praised the impact of programmes but pointed to gaps in cost and cost effectiveness analysis.