Definition of Benefits And Disbenefits

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Definition of Benefits And Disbenefits
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A benefit is a measurable improvement delivered by a programme which is seen by a stakeholder to be positive and worthwhile. For example, creating more green spaces in a particular borough or a perception via a residents' survey that crime has gone down.

Types of Benefits

Benefits can be classified in a number of ways. A distinction is made between financial benefits which are measured in monetary terms, and non-financial benefits that cannot be measured in monetary terms.

Financial benefits are further categorised as cashable, those that give rise to immediate bankable returns, e.g. capital receipts from the disposal of property, or non-cashable, e.g. an efficiency gain leading to less time to complete a required task but cannot be converted into a reduction in staffing or cost.

Non-financial benefits include improvements across services and corporate functions (e.g. HR, ICT, and Legal Services) that can be measured using national and local non-financial performance indicators and the results of citizens and staff surveys.

The following table illustrates the above.

Type of Benefit
Financial Cashable

Example: Capital receipts from the disposal of property


Example: An efficiency gain leading to less time to complete a required task

Non-Financial Measurable

Example: Greater customer satisfaction, measured using a performance indicator or survey results


Example: Improved innovation


Dis-benefits are the outcomes from a programme which are perceived by one or more stakeholders as negative, e.g. new operational costs, or loss of green space in an area due to the building of a new school. The same change can be seen by different stakeholders as both a benefit (net cost reduction through fewer staff) and a dis-benefit (job losses). These dis-benefits can be classified, managed and measured in the same way as benefits.

Dis-benefits can be confused with risks, but whereas risks may be avoided dis-benefits will definitely be created by the programme and the task is to manage their impact. It is important to understand which stakeholder will lose out so that this can be managed.

If managed pro-actively some dis-benefits can be turned into opportunities or even new benefits (for example, the school may provide an extended public playing area for children to compensate for the loss of green space).


See the Benefits Map And Benefit Profiles template

See also

User Guide to this wiki.
Outperform's wiki administration guide (login required).
Click here to download the PSPMA Embedding Guide
PS PMA Video Case Study
PS PMA Glossary of Terms
A map of PS PMA documents to MSP documents.
One page PS PMA wall chart in A3 size, PDF format
Visit the Local Government Project and Programme Community of Practice (PPM CoP) and join up.
The Site Map shows all pages within the PS PMA wiki.
The Workshop Facilitation Handbook
About London Councils
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